Friday, 1 August 2008

5 Sermons that changed my life NUMBER 5

J. John "They're everywhere!"

I cannot remember when I heard this, or where. I have heard J.John at Soul Survivor, and at the Newfrontiers Evangelist's Summit, and at the Newfrontiers Brighton Conference, so I don't even know if my memory is of a talk or an amalgamation of a series of talks heard by the same preacher - J.John.

He is undoubtedly one of the most gifted communicators of this generation. He is intensely funny, and very insightful. In short - he is a scream. He is the kind of guy you want at the Barbeque when you first invite a friend, you want him on the car park on the first Alpha night, you want him in the pulpit explaining, challenging, bringing the gospel to life, and you want him in the pub answering the tough questions after the talk.

But the brilliance of J.John is that he equips and exhorts every believer in their personal witness. This is no platform expert doing the stuff on your behalf, this is a prophetic voice, a heart changer, a life-shaper, taking a consumerist and introverted church into a missional calling. If anyone fulfills the role in Ephesians 4 of apostolic evangelist in my life it would be Him.

I remember two things so clearly. Him saying that some Christians say "I don't know how to meet non-Christians" and him jumping around the stage shouting "BUT THEY ARE EVERYWHERE!", "THEY ARE EVERYWHERE". More than 95% of people you could accidentally meet are them. They are in the shops, in the pubs, in the parks, on the bus, at the football, in the houses, at the school gate. If you speak to ANYONE there is a 95% chance you are speaking to someone who does not have a personal relationship with Jesus. So this means everything, everywhere is witness.

Then he encouraged us to go and find something we love, and do it, enjoy it, and meet people, build friendships, be salt and light, and be an ambassador for Christ with them. I was captivated. I made a decision, deep down, that I liked football, and so I was going to engage with it as best I could, and burn for Jesus in that environment. An example is given here.

I am an editor of the club fanzine, and moderator on the supporter's website, I have led press campaigns, served on the board of the Supporter's Trust, and met literally hundreds of local people, and made some great friendships. To many of my friends I am one of a handful of "religious" people they know, if not the only one. I get intense banter about my faith (and some abuse), and a lot of questions. And I greatly enjoy being out there, having fun, meeting people, and being active in a local subculture within our community where there are few known believers. These are not "projects" or "targets" for me, they are my friends, and I want to reflect something of Jesus to them.

So it changed my view of witness, and it changed how I spend my spare time. Every day is an opportunity to reflect something of Jesus to people, and amongst the people I have the most in common with there is the biggest opportunity.


Jongudmund said...

It's funny how some Christians try to make sure they don't meet non-Christians though. I get junk mail from Christian Pages asking me to advertise with them. Their big sell is that Christians would apparently prefer to use Christian plumbers, builders etc.

Christian holidays
Christian bookshops
Christian schools (or Christian home tutoring)
Christian TV/radio
Christian magazines
Christian ISPs
Christian music
Christian t-shirts
Christian financial services
... oh and look in Christian Pages if you need a Christian plumber.

For some Christians "they" are NOT everywhere because when you live in a cultural ghetto you never meet anyone.

Blue, with a hint of amber said...

I agree.

Mark Driscoll describes it as "Church as bombshelter" where we all run and hide from the world outside.