There are lots of people I will never be, and I would be very foolish to try to fill their shoes. Brilliant philosophers. Accomplished artists. Any kind of elite sportsman.
Any kind of sportsman at all, really.
But that doesn’t worry me, or you, in the normal run of things. I’m no Cezanne, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy mucking about with some watercolours. And the world is no better off without my footballing prowess, or analytical smarts.
But there are roles that you and I need to fill which definitely go with the job of being a pastor, and arguably go with the role of being a Christian.
Evangelist, for instance.
Boy, do I find it hard.
And I think one reason I find it hard is because I assume that there is one style of being an evangelist, or an ideal person, and I am to copy that. The result is I feel guilty and cramped: guilty because I can’t do it like them, and cramped because I shouldn’t be trying to do it like them.
There are lots of evangelists I will never be, and I would be very foolish to try to fill their shoes. I don’t have the personal presence of Billy Graham, the easy charm of Nicky Gumbel, or the intellectual firepower of Ravi Zacharias. I can’t confront, like Phillip Jensen, and I don’t have the passion of Rico Tice.
And the trick is not to let that worry me.
As a pastor, I am to ‘do the work of an evangelist’ (2 Tim. 4:5) even if I’m not a natural.
So here are the three, simple lessons I’ve learned.
Preach often, simply, about how to become a Christian. People need to hear it put from the person they’re most to hearing it from. Those big name guys have huge advantages, but I have a better one: I’m available, I live round here, and I can meet up for coffee. And especially if I find one-to-one evangelism hard, forcing myself to articulate the gospel invitation helps me to practice, and does a lot of the work for me.
Provide your own resources. I’ve written before about the advantages of producing your own evangelistic resources – it’s not so much about having your name on the cover (though your church’s logo is a good idea), but having your voice between the covers. Your phrasing and content matches the courses and programmes you run.
Find your niche. I read loads, and enjoy talking about books, so I find the most natural place for me is a secular book group. Any novel worth reading raises issues that shake hands with the gospel, and if I get the approach right, I can make a case for gospel plausibility without forcing the matter.
Have you found a way that’s natural to you? I’d love to hear it! Pile in.