Sometimes, people ask us the same questions, and we aren't prepared to answer them. As we approach "Discovery Sunday" at our church, I've been asking you to pray about who you can invite to church. I was reminded in a recent conversation that one thing that can stumble us up a bit at Laurentian is when people ask "What's a Wesleyan Church?" I admit, I stumble over that one a bit too, not because I don't know who we are, but because the best answer often depends on who is asking. If someone's background is Catholic, or Baptist, or Methodist, or none, I often try to explain who we are in a way that relates to their experience. Sometimes I suceed sometimes I think I make them more confused. It's easier to say "come and find out". I was reading an interview with our General Superintendent, JoAnne Lyon. This interview reminded me of who we are. (You can click here to read the interview. It's a quick, easy read). If someone asked me that question today, I would say something to the effect of, "We're a church that believes in sharing the hope found in a relationship with Jesus Christ, and that God can set us free from our sin". Certainly we share these biblical ideals with many churches, and I'm grateful for our heritage as a church. But the bigger question is, am I prepared for the much more important question; "Why are you a Christian?"
1 Peter 3:14-16 says, "But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. 'Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.' But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."
I know that sometimes, this verse actually keeps us from sharing our faith, because we never feel adequately prepared. If Chrissy and I found that trail we hiked in Vermont and didn't put on some different shoes based on our last experience, we would not be "growing" in our understanding of what it means to hike up a mountain. We are not experts. We don't claim to be. But if there is a "next time", we'll be more ready.
I realize sometimes my logic is my own..ha. But if we are asked "Why are you a Christian?" and we aren't prepared, let's get prepared, as best we know how. But most of all, be growing in our preparedness. We'll never be prepared for any question someone might ask. It's ok to say, "I don't know that one, but I'll find out". (And by the way, I believe we actually hurt the cause of Christ when we pretend to have all the answers). Sometimes we can say, "follow me and then you'll see". The point is to always be growing in your preparedness. I hope I don't stumble over my answer to "What's a Wesleyan Church?" as much as I have in the past. But more importantly, I want to be prepared to point people to Jesus when they ask about my faith. And if I make a mistake, it's ok. I'll learn from it and be more prepared in the future.
P.S. At our Thursday Bible Study, we're doing a series called "Go Fish" which teaches us how to be prepared to share out faith. Join us. This series goes until Thurs., Oct. 15th).