by Brian Cole
But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
Can I get a witness? (Long, awkward pause as nervous Episcopalians hope someone else volunteers to be the Evangelism Chairperson this year.)
Can I get a witness? (Long, awkward pause as anxious Episcopalians sit in silence until someone says, “I would be willing to help with this but can we call it something else besides EVANGELISM!?!”)
Can I get a witness? (Long, awkward pause as embarrassed Episcopalians finally decide that a better website for the parish church this year will be sufficient for this year’s evangelism program. Committee adjourns and promises never to meet again.)
Whenever we consider evangelism as a scheme, a device, a program that comes to us, with some assembly required, it will always be a hard sell, a poor fit. We hope the extroverts show up and save us from talking to anyone about salvation.
Peter and John, however, are not speaking about a program, a new curriculum drop from Church HQ in Jerusalem. When faced with a warning to shut up about the Jesus story already by the powers that be, they respond, “We just can’t help it! It’s what we do. We tell our story about our lives. Our lives involve God and this Jesus thing, too.”
What is your story? What is your story about where you have seen the story of God in your life? What is your story about where you have heard the story of God in your life?
In other words, evangelism takes us back to childhood, to the child, who, as bedtime approaches, asks, “Will you tell me a story?”
Too often, we never invite people to tell their story, let alone their story about God, about Jesus. The only God story we hear comes from the priest, the professionally pious.
Can I get a witness? (A group of Episcopalians gather and listen and speak, laughing, crying, doubting, affirming, recognizing where God and the story of Jesus has been seen and heard in their lives.)
But don’t tell them this is evangelism or they’ll stop. Tell them it’s the We Can’t Help It Committee.
What is your story? Where has your story included seeing or hearing the story of Jesus?
Give yourself some time over the next few days to sit, with cup of coffee or glass of wine, and consider your story. Write what comes to you, without editing. Write the “I just can’t help but say this” stuff. Then, read it and consider what kind of evangelist you already are.