Whilst walking through town on Saturday I encountered one of a number of very interesting fellows who seem to think that professing their faith means to yell very loudly about damnation whilst giving out little leaflets that warn of the dangers of sin. He had quite a large area of empty space around him as people made moves, in some cases akin to an Olympic gymnast, in order to avoid "getting caught". I was with my girlfriend at the time and as these sorts of things don't really bother me I ploughed on straight past the young man, and also past a small board he erected with sentiments such as "religion will not save you", "repent or go to hell" and "the wages of sin are death" emblasoned across it. As we neared the board and were about to walk past it he seemed to get very nervous and ran towards us saying "don't touch, don't touch." I took a deliberate step to the side, away from the man's board and continued on my way leaving the gentleman to continue his solitary test of his lung capacity.
Now, of course I realise that to ridicule this man would be very hypocritical of me after I professed in my last blog that it shouldn't matter how you praise as long as it heartfelt praise, and therefore I wont. But, I will say, that just because I don't necessarily agree with what this man was saying doesn't mean that he still didn't have a message for me.
The message: Maybe he has the right idea.
How often as a church do we step out in faith as that man does to go out and profess our religion? I'm not talking about us all converging on our local town centre to litter the streets with discarded tracts but rather, stepping out into our communities to show people we are actually still there. We support Christian Aid in our church and it is coming round to the time of year when our treasurer will be asking for volunteers to help him give out and collect the envelopes. As I helped to collect these envelopes last year it amazed me how many people wanted to stop to chat on the door step and the number of "It's good to see you"'s we got on the way.
Now I know a lot of churches have a great prominent place in their communities with Mother and Toddler groups, Prayer meetings and even soup kitchens all playing vital roles but, is this enough and are there enough of them? Do we, as Christians, do enough shouting for our faith?
If I was a male Sikh then every time I stepped out of my front door I would be professing my faith simply by wearing my turban or any other of the 5 k's. How often do we as Christians leave our religion till a third or fourth meeting before it comes up in conversation? And no, I'm not saying we should be accosting people we meet with a barrage of "do you know the Lord as your personal saviour" but, maybe as a church we need to step out more in the faith.
The discussion about the missing generation in our church is still as heated as it was when it started up on MP's blog last week and maybe this is part of the answer. Maybe as a church we need to accept that even if we make a radical change in our thinking (as I suggested in a comment on MP's latest blog) maybe this will still not be enough.
Lets take a leaf out of that man I saw in town's book and step out in faith. Let's take the good news we know we have into the streets and meet people on their level in their lives. How many of our churches have ladies who are great at baking, flower arranging, knitting. Why aren't we in town professing out faith by selling Aunt Bessie's fruit cake, Doris' flower arrangements or Ethel's jumpers? Yes, I know this might sound a bit twee but there must be so many things as a church we could be doing to raise our profile in our local communities and show people that being a Christian isn't a case of people eternally yelling at you about how bad you are, which, for a lot of people is the only contact they get with Christianity when they pass people in town as I did on Saturday.
Come on Church, lets show the world just how fun and life changing being a Christian can be, and sometimes you even get a bit of cake too!