This past week, I tuned in to a conference held at the Anglican Centre in Rome, the topic being, ‘The Ecumenical Impact on Evangelization.’ One of the panelists commented that we tend to have no problem sharing the good news about a 50% off sale with all our friends and acquaintances, but we shrink at the prospect of sharing the good news of Jesus. It was an amusing comparison but true all the same. The “E” word tends to be a bit of a naughty word in (Western Canadian) Anglicanism, and there seems to be a prevailing sense that sharing our faith is an imposition, very often underlined by a fear that we will be labeled as pushy or judgmental.
Interestingly, however, the reality is often quite different. In my own experience, I’ve found that lots of non-churchgoing folks are quite curious about WHY people choose to go to church, especially if the exchange is authentic and honest. No one wants to hear a pat, scripted message, but they do want to know what our faith really means to us. The tricky part is, we first must ask that question of ourselves before we can share our findings with others, and this requires courage and vulnerability. It is not a one-way exchange, but rather a mutual sharing rooted in respect and love.
This is the mission Jesus gave us. Fortunately, we are not left on our own to do it. The beauty of Pentecost is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, making us into the Church, and empowering us to do what would be impossible for us to do on our own. We are not sent to “win souls” but to build relationships and share the story of Christ with others, as it is told in and through our own lives, and always with God’s help.