(an edited version of a New Times online article published on the SA Synod website)
This week’s The Hope we Have conference in Adelaide featured speakers Karina Kreminski and Mike Frost. Their research and experiences demonstrate the nature of authentic evangelism in the Australian context.
Here are five principles:
Love your neighbour – Karina Kreminski talks about this as ‘the art of neighbouring’. Jesus gave everyone a practical plan to live life “love your neighbour as yourself”. This means knowing someone’s name – humanising and seeing people in what can be a dehumanising world. Discovering your neighbour’s names, building genuine friendships, practicing stick-ability – show people you are around for the long haul.
Self-sacrifice – Allowing yourself to receive from others, this often means relinquishing power and control in order to relate to people authentically. Self-sacrifice involves having conversations in order to build relationships with those you would not normally converse with. For Jesus, this was dining with prostitutes, tax collectors and sinners. Non-Christians can be buffered and resistant to hearing the Gospel. It is possible to counter that sense of being buffered by creating space that is safe so people feel comfortable with discussing deeper issues. Find out what people are craving, help people develop the longings within them. The longings that are the real stuff of being human. Things like gratitude, joy, kindness, forgiveness.
Don’t stereotype people negatively
People are yearning for affirmation, not the opposite. People don’t want to be told how ‘not good enough they are’. They are yearning to be valued, taken seriously as a person, as a precious subject of personal love. When people come to know Christ, the first thing they notice is the beauty and kindness of God. It is in the face of such beauty and kindness that sin can then be seen for what it really is, and real change happens as a result – not from guilt but from grace.
Bless others – Mike Frost gathers with a group of Jesus followers in Manly, Sydney each week. They call themselves ‘Small Boat, Big Sea’. One of their weekly actions is to bless 3 people each week and to eat with 3 people each week. Mike says these actions of generosity exemplify good community and spark a cycle of giving and generosity by the receiver which is also deeply and progressively transformative to the giver.
Look for the overlap – Mike encourages 3Story evangelism. 3Story is made up of ‘My Story’, ‘Your Story’ and ‘God’s Story’. My Story is how God has transformed us. That is, how is God shaping and transforming our lives. Your Story involves active listening. Listening to the stories of others and pointing out how there is a mutuality and respect between My Story, Your Story and God’s Story that can be accentuated. God’s Story refers to what God is doing in the world. The overlap refers to the space in the middle of the three stories. How does God’s Story shape Your Story after hearing My Story? More on 3Story can be downloaded here.
Karina Kreminski is releasing a book in late October, titled: Urban Spirituality:embodying God’s Mission in the Neighbourhood. She also has a blog post which can be followed here. Mike Frost has written several books and also has a website and blog which can be viewed here.