One of the discussions at the Missional Learning Commons a few weeks ago revolved around the topic of evangelism in post-Christian contexts. (“Sharing a Deeper Gospel in Post-Christian Context” is the title, if you want to download the audio from the Missional Commons website).
So I started thinking… in the gospels, whenever Jesus shares the message of the kingdom, it’s very often in response to something he has just done. Jesus heals someone on the Sabbath, and people demand an explanation. A concrete expression of the kingdom takes place, and people say, “What is the meaning of this?” Then Jesus shares the message (very often in parabolic form). It seems like most of the time for Jesus preferred to demonstrate the gospel first, which usually led to an opportunity to talk about it.
Jesus’ modus operandi was demonstration, then explanation.
So I think it’s vital to “be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have” (1 Pet 3:15), and we need to learn to talk about the gospel in ways that aren’t steeped in reductionistic Enlightenment thinking, but I think perhaps it’s more important to discern what an appropriate demonstration of the kingdom ought to look like in our contexts.
What concrete actions can the church be practicing that would actually demand some kind of gospel explanation? What is the content of the kingdom? We use words like “justice” and “healing” to explain and describe it, but how should these concepts and ideas be translated into observable actions that the church takes? Is it simply living moral lives? Advocating for justice? Feeding the hungry? Healing the sick? Practicing prophecy? Teaching the Bible? Living in community?
I’m wondering what you think. Exercise some kingdom imagination. Tell me what you think a demonstration of the gospel looks like for post-Christian contexts.