We unashamedly bang on about evangelism all the time at Grace. Some of our folk get frustrated sometimes – they feel it’s all we seem to talk about. And they’re probably right. We intentionally bias toward those far from Christ in our talk, prayers, and strategy. Why? Listen to these words from Kathy Keller’s 2013 article ‘How to be Happy at Redeemer’:
we must always remind ourselves that we inside the church are not to put our own likes, dislikes, priorities and personal agendas ahead of the needs of those outside the church. This is difficult to the point of being nearly impossible, as the needs and desires of members (for programs and budget and training and attention from leaders) will always be more visible and voluble than the needs of people who aren’t even there and mostly are unable to articulate their spiritual needs.
Did you get that? It is ‘difficult to the point of being nearly impossible’ to keep the church outward focused. The needs of those already inside clamour noisily. If the leaders don’t shout loud about evangelism few others will. We’re naturally turned in ourselves – our wants, our needs, our desires, which means that, strange as it may sound, balance requires bias. If we intentionally bias toward evangelism, given our natural bent inwards, we might come close to something like balance. That’s hard and uncomfortable as it doesn’t come naturally. Leaders need to hold their nerve and resist the country club mentality. Listen to Kathy’s conclusion:
The corollary, of that, friends, is that we must all be prepared to accept a certain level of dissatisfaction with some aspects of Redeemer, if those are the result of our outward-facing stance. In fact, you will only be happy at Redeemer if your first priority is not your own happiness, but the joy of seeing skeptical people encounter the gospel and be brought to new life in Christ. Compared to that we must consider our complaints about not having things all our way as insignificant.