Belonging, believing, behaving and becoming
Recently, I came across this article by the Rev’d Dr Ian T Price who is the Mission Resourcing Network Team Leader for the Synod of South Australia of the Uniting Church of Australia. I agree with everything he says:
‘The mission of the church has, from day one, involved evangelism. The word itself comes from a Greek word that means to share the good news.
‘There was a time when evangelism was a relatively simple thing. When the church was at the centre of the community and people still came to worship.
‘Those days seem a distant memory. Many of us live in highly secular communities that are suspicious of organised religion. People are cautious about the church given its very painful, recent past. Evangelism is no longer about sharing the good news to an open and accepting community. Today we are engaged in a task that is demanding and difficult.
‘So how are we to respond? There are four things that will help us find our way forward.
‘Belonging Long before people think about the content of the good news and the faith they ask the question, “Can I belong here?” This question involves concerns about safety, unconditional acceptance, open community and hospitality. If I cannot really belong, then I will not engage with you about life, faith or anything else. This is called narrative engagement. Does my story have a place within the story of this community? If so, I will then take the next step to explore how my story connects with the story – the story of faith.
‘Believing What Christians believe and why is not something we can take for granted. Being able to say readily what we believe about God, who Christ is and what it means to be a Christian are all important. To do this, the first Christians simply shared what they knew about Jesus and how they experienced him as the Christ.
‘Today, we might add where we can find hope in troubled times and the utter dependability of God’s love to this list of beliefs. The key is to ask, “Where do you find a sense of the sacred in your life?” One thing is certain, God is there and is reaching out in grace to every person.
‘Behaving How shall we live? What are the principles that will allow us to live justly, lovingly, and fruitfully? Where a community is willing to engage in a discipleship process that explores the meaning of life, seeks to work together and identify the future with hope, it is on the right track.
‘Becoming All of us want to know that we are building a life that counts. The becoming aspect of life involves a spiritual formation and development, character building, coping with the transitions of life, and developing the gifts we offer in service.
‘Evangelism that embraces these four aspects – belonging, believing, behaving, and becoming – will be attractive to the faith seeker and offer a framework for Christians as they reach out in the name of Christ’.