accidental evangelists

This week is dominated with preparations for our latest creative outreach. A new interactive window; themed gifts; pavement conversations. We are about to joyfully engage in street evangelism again with no reluctance in sight… but very few of us would really describe ourselves as having evangelism as our gifting.  We’re worship leaders, intercessors, prophets, poets, painters, pastors, justice activists and advocates and perhaps, sometimes teachers. So what happened? How did we become accidental evangelists?

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The first reason is perhaps obvious. We’ve been praying!

At the Sanctuary we believe prayer changes things. And we also believe it changes us.

We’ve seen the headlines change suddenly and we’ve seen ourselves change too. Sometimes quickly, sometimes in a slow burn way that is suddenly a blaze without you having noticed quite how.

As we consciously and consistently seek God and his heart for those in our community, country and the nations… and as we commit to obey whatever he says, we find he gently leads us outwards beyond ourselves to each one in seven billion that God so loves. In the focus of our worship and prayer yes. But also in our actions.

The second reason is we just keep receiving more and more and it’s impossible not to give it away.

There is something in the DNA of the Spirit – and by way of reflection, in the vision and practice of the Sanctuary – that is always moving resources, celebration and beauty down and out.

God is so generous to us every day with new mercies of revelation and inspiration as we worship and pray. And all of those gifts, insights and changed perspectives have to go somewhere!

They pour out in songs and prayers and creative ideas and stories and paintings and sculptures and testimonies. Colour, sound, beauty, life, truth – all vibrantly shining and celebrating their source.

And these just have to be given.That’s what they were received for. To be shared again and again.

Some of them go all over the world to the tens of thousands of people who download them from our website as always intended in our core vision. And some of them have simply pour out through the glass of our centre’s window and out of our mouths as we gossip what the latest thing we are amazed by is when we pop out to chat to a passer-by who’s looking in to see what it’s all about.

And suddenly we find we’re giving away creative gifts and words and smiles and time and love and about to launch a worship busking ministry. And all of a sudden we’re accidentally evangelising when actually we thought we were just worshipping and sharing the joy that’s come from that.

And we’re not frightened, we’re excited. And we’re having fun and it’s natural and easy and us.

Oh. Perhaps that’s the third reason. And it’s key.

Suddenly evangelism isn’t something scary or different that we have to learn to do. It’s not something we don’t feel qualified or gifted to do. It’s simply become worship in a different language with a different congregation – a natural overflow of who we are in Christ to others.

We’re just connecting through art and story and song and gifts and smiles and gentle words and excited enthusiasm and appreciation for others’ creative talents and laughter, and flowers and warm welcomes and cups of tea. Like we always do with our friends…

And guess what? The reactions are great!

Are we experiencing a change in the spiritual atmosphere? Yes partly, we’re sure we are.

Are we letting go of fear and becoming more bold? Yes this has to be in the mix somewhere.

Are we honestly more concerned with God’s heart for people now than our reputation or comfort? Yes we think we might be.

Are we being transformed to be more like Jesus? Yes please God, we certainly hope so.

Have we inadvertently received the gift of evangelism without noticing? Perhaps, we’re not really sure! We didn’t ask for it really but something has changed…

But most of all have we let go of an ill-fitting ‘religious’ sense of what we thought evangelism should be and look like? Yes absolutely.

And instead, we’re now stepping into sharing what God’s doing among us in the way we love to – just a bit more widely than before, because we can’t contain it within our walls anymore.

Perhaps there’s nothing accidental about this at all. Perhaps this is always the way we start to go. When we realise we can be who he has made us to be and use the language he has given each one of us to point others to him, rather than feeling we need to look like some pre-conceived idea of someone who ‘shares the gospel’ and has all the right phrases and apologetics approaches worked out.

Welcome to his raggle taggle accidental team of accidental evangelists… we have a sense there’s an outpost of this movement recruiting right where you are too!

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