What’s one thing I wish I knew when I started preaching the gospel?
… I’m a link in the chain, a step on the journey.
I’d finished one of my Comedy and Christianity events and I was approached by an older gentleman who had been invited by his family!
The aim of one such event is to seek to change the perception of the Christian faith. Off the back of these events people are often invited to come along to hear me speak on a Sunday morning some six weeks later or attend an Alpha course or my Reason to Believe course.
Back to the gentlemen. I could see him heading towards me as I stood at the door. He told me he would come and see the event advertised on the postcard on the table. He was intrigued as to how I would preach as opposed to doing a comedy routine. True to his word, he came along and actually on that morning came to faith in Christ. I met him a further six months on and he came to see me with the biggest smile ever, announcing “I’m still going strong you know, been to church every Sunday and now done Alpha”.
This is one of many reasons why I value, celebrate and encourage what I call the “healthy maybe” in a person’s journey to faith – that part where they change to thinking their may be something in Christian, where they have their perceptions changed.
This story is not uncommon. In fact I would say it’s the norm. If you ever listen to someone telling you their story of how they came to faith in Christ – most people’s journey involved them at some point travelling through the ‘healthy maybe’ (becoming open-minded) on their way to a ‘little yes’ (investigation) and a ‘big yes’ (decision to follow Christ). I’ve met so many people when they’ve been in the “healthy maybe” stage. It excites me because at this stage they are on the way.
If we’re not careful we can put such a big focus on a person committing their life to Christ, we end up not celebrating all the little decisions along the way.
It’s interesting when Paul (who we incorrectly think had a “one-off” moment in his life and then became a Christian) is sharing his testimony with King Agrippa in Acts 26, that King Agrippa said to him, “Do you think in such a short time you can persuade me to become a Christian?” Paul’s response was to say, “short time, or long, I pray that you and all those here listening will become as I am except for these chains”. Actually, Paul had a long journey with God and so he understood that it might take a long time for King Agrippa (and those listening) to come to faith, but he was committed to that.
I’m not suggesting for one moment that we hold back from the “Big Yes” moments, quite the opposite, we need to increase them, however, it’s my firm conviction that we do need to have a long term view of the journey of commitment and celebrate and promote whatever steps people take in their discipleship journey – which starts incidentally before they come to Christ.
Have a prayerful think about the people you have had the opportunity to share your faith. Are any of them a ‘healthy maybe’ or ‘little yes’ or ‘Big yes’?
Rev. Mark Greenwood,
National Evangelist for Elim Churches and head of evangelism