I recently finished Reimagining Evangelism which was an interesting read that I recommend for folks. One of his points was that church-folk should expect an air of “mistrust” from their normal friends. This helped me realize that is my M.O. Rather than using the typical evangelistic approaches of addressing people with an “I have the answers to your questions” pomposity, I go into relationships expecting people to mistrust the church and especially church-folk.
A pastor at Liquid church said it well the other week, when people are polled many believe in God, but if you ask them why they do not participate in a worship service they typically respond with 1) it’s boring, 2) it’s about money not me, 3) it’s unfriendly and cliquish, or 4) inadequate childcare. What is fascinating about these four responses is that, rarely, do people place the blame on God. Rather their responses show their mistrust and dissatisfaction with the Church and church-folk.
It is no wonder that the church is struggling. We continue to open our doors at 10:55am expecting people to show up. We have failed to penetrate the daily rhythms not only of the normal people, but also many of the church-folk . The message and the practices the church has been promoting fails to break this mistrust.
Our testimonies–as thought to many of us–are a formulaic script that produce a Christian facade: how my life was before Christ, how I met Christ, and how great life is after meeting Christ. This intensifies the mistrust because it is an obvious lie…there are many experiences after “meeting Christ” where doubt, anger, sin, and death creep back in.
Therefore, in these normal relationships, it is important for church-folk to acknowledge the mistrust through humble vulnerability. Richardson argues that it is through inviting people into our lives that we disarm their mistrust because we show that we too are along in this journey; we too are stuck in the mire and mud. This disarming invitation will show God at work within one’s life, rather than self-promoting one’s own capabilities (which, if the four things above is accurate, fail to connect with people).