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The thinking about evangelism that shapes this book is that we give from the overflow of what we have received. In other words, are we developing in our churches an authentic and lived spirituality that can shape the lives of individuals and communities? Before the church can evangelise the world, the gospel must evangelise the church. And here we come to the first of many paradoxes that inevitably shape any consideration of Christian faith.

It is in giving that we receive.

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We may not get very far in enabling the gospel to evangelise the church if we do it in a vacuum, locked away inside church buildings and church culture. It might best be done in the community around us. With proper humility we need to allow the questions of the world to shape the agenda of the church. We also need a keen awareness that whenever we dare to speak of God, and whenever we deal with the deepest mysteries of the human response to God, and the issues of life and death that go with it, we are treading on sacred ground.

It is not something over which we have authority or control. Aware of our own shortcomings and needs, the best way to proceed is to recognise ourselves as fellow seekers in the way of faith. In other words we get on with the ministry of evangelism, but stop doing it in a way that suggests we have all the answers Jesus is the answer. Now, what was the question?

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Someone has defined evangelism as one beggar telling another beggar where to get bread. Rather than being paralysed by the recognition that our own lives are only very dimly lit by the gospel, we could use this as a starting point for activities that help us address questions of meaning and faith in a way that will allow us to make common cause with others — as yet outside the Christian community — who are asking similar questions. We will return to this approach when we consider the actual doing of evangelism later in the book. For the time being it is important to be clear about this most basic realisation: the chief reason that many churches struggle with evangelism — and so much more — is that they are not places of prayer.

Addressing this issue must be the first step towards becoming an evangelising, mission-shaped church. This is the way we will grow in our own relationship with God. This is the way we will find a faith to share as well as a natural and unforced way of sharing it.

God's Love and Forgiveness Audiobook | Zacharias Tanee Fomum |

Joyfully — and with some relief — we embrace the paradox that the best way of helping the church discover an authentic spirituality might also be the best way of evangelising a spiritually starved culture. But this is another subject we will return to. This is undoubtedly true for the ministry of evangelism. If anyone says to me they would like to grow in their faith, then my best advice is to suggest they try and give their faith away.

We will also learn to pray like never before.

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We will quickly discover that neither the example of our goodness nor the eloquence of our speech will ever make anyone into a Christian. But we will also discover another important gospel paradox. The humble admission of our failure, and the testimony of the grace and help we have received, will really communicate, and in giving we will have received. Let us then return to the question of prayer.

How shall we define prayer? Well, think of God as the great Lover who longs to communicate his love to his people. The Christian revelation is that God longs to enjoy community with the creation he has made and particularly with humankind. We are the people who are able to respond with the selfsame love from which we were created. Therefore God is constantly coming into our presence to proclaim his love.

He comes to pledge his troth to us. His life is a demonstration of love. Through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit this same offer of love is made to the world today. Moreover, we are the Beloved.

We are made in his image and alone in all creation as far as our present understanding can tell able to return the love we receive. Because it is love, God can never, and will never, force or coerce us into responding, but he always waits upon us. Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, when we do make the free response of love more of this later we are brought into community with God.

What we call prayer is actually our response to God. In its most raw and basic form, it is the longing of our heart to know God. This resonance in the human heart between the love of God and the response of the human spirit is in fact the highest form of prayer and will be the stuff of eternity.

Helping people into this prayer requires that we preach the gospel. We tell people about the love of God in Christ and the affirmation, forgiveness and acceptance that it offers. We tell of our own need of God and of the change and blessing it has brought to our lives. It is not a formula or a technique — though in time formulas and techniques may help us grow in making an ordered response to God, for discipline as well as desire is required in the life of prayer.

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This happens in fleeting moments and in ordered occasions — in times of prayer, in fellowship with other people, and in the worship of the church. And we help people make their response, using the forms of the liturgy, or their own words, or the deep and expectant silence of contemplation.

But it does mean that none of them will be any help whatsoever unless we have first become a people of prayer. When the church becomes a house of prayer, says Brother Roger of Taize, people will come running. In my own ministry as a priest I have glimpsed the truth of this astonishing claim. Chapter Two:. A theological vision: the faith that changes our life and the gospel we share. It is through a life lived in community with God, a life shaped by intimate prayer and the worship of the church, that this happens. It could hardly be any other, since the Christian revelation of God is of a community of persons, whose pleasant company with each other is an ever-widening circle of love, endlessly creative, self-giving and inclusive.

The God who is community wishes to extend the invitation of community to the whole creation and especially to every human person. Thus the proclamation of Christ is the proclamation of a person through whom we have community with God see Ephesians 2: The Christian faith — or what we should properly call the Christian life — is an invitation to join this community. This is why, from a catholic perspective, the invitation to know Christ is always an invitation to community with God within the household of the church.

Therefore the work of evangelism is much more than asking people to give intellectual assent to the truths about God — inviting them to believe certain things — it is a call to receive the generosity of God and then to live lives of generosity and hospitality that invite others in. Although we shall deal with this in detail in the penultimate chapter, developing a generous and hospitable Christian community is in many respects a vital first step to becoming an evangelising church.

But as we have already noted, this sort of growth and development is not linear or formulaic. It is not a matter of following certain steps, so much as living out certain attitudes and developing a certain kind of personhood in our relationship with each other and the world. This will be an authentic Christian community. It will also be an attractive community that people will want to join. However, it is not a matter of waiting to see who comes and then making them welcome. It must involve living out what we believe in a way that raises questions about the whole of life, and encourages others to explore.

You catch me and I go to jail. Jail would be where I "pay" for my crime of breaking the law. The penalty is met and that is justice. I get what I deserve. Let's change it a little. I sneak over to your house and steal your bike. You catch me. But you don't send me to jail.

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Instead, you tell me to forget about it. The penalty, jail, is not met. That is mercy.