The Christmas season provides many natural opportunities to talk about Jesus with co-workers, neighbors, classmates, friends and family. But how can we do this effectively? Lesslie Newbigin was a British theologian who spent the bulk of his ministry as a missionary in India. Below is an adapted list of his suggested ingredients for an effective “missionary encounter with Western culture.”
- A new apologetic (that takes on the so-called neutrality of secular reason) – No one is without bias. Even atheists make certain “faith” assumptions. We must be willing to ask questions and to help others identify the underpinnings of their beliefs.
- The teaching of the kingdom of God (that God wants not only to save souls but to heal the whole creation) – People are concerned with this life (i.e. animals, social justice, care of the earth)—not simply the life to come (i.e. heaven). The full message of the kingdom addresses all of these things.
- Earning the right to be heard by serving others sacrificially—Our good works disarm hostility, validate our love, and give credibility to our message.
- A commitment to bring the implications of your faith into your public calling— The world must see a faith that transforms all of life. In an age of skepticism, people must hear the gospel from those they trust and respect.
- A countercultural church community—The church is intended to be a glimpse of the kingdom of God in a fractured world. You can have a credible witness by living distinctly and peaceably as brothers and sisters in a local church.
- A global church—The world is rife with ethnic conflict and civil war. The church must demonstrate the power of the gospel to reconcile people of various income levels, backgrounds and ethnicities.
- Courage— We don’t proceed on the basis of our competency but on the basis of Jesus’ command, the Spirit’s convicting work and God’s powerful word.
Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/christmas-new-year-s-eve-postcard-1911637/