Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Who really represents Christianity in the public square? The Pastor? The Apologist? The Mega Church? Who has the credibility to be the face of Christianity for those who are searching, seeking and even challenging the Person and Message of Jesus Christ?
Recently, there has been a great increase in forums established for debating issues of faith and truth. Various persons of renown within the Evangelical community have stepped forward to don the mantle of faith, using a variety of approaches in their attempts to accurately represent the Gospel of Jesus Christ via the mass media.
Some have attempted to meet the skeptics on their home court as crusaders, venturing into territory filled with hostile audiences and limited by preconditions that all but put them at the mercy of their opponents. For these defenders of the faith, every encounter is a do or die battle that must be won whatever the costs.
Others, seek to defend the faith by presenting themselves as pop psychologists who dish out a feel good message that is aimed at winning over listeners by "killing them with kindness" and giving audiences an opportunity to "taste and see that the Lord is good." This approach often stays as far as possible from elements of Christianity that might "offend" such as "Hell", "Sin" and "Repent" in favor of a "kinder,gentler" approach that sometimes leaves important questions unanswered.
Personally, though I am grateful for every opportunity that arises for people to meaningfully discuss matters of faith and particularly faith as defined by trusting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, I am also concerned that we may have relegated our discussions of faith in Jesus to forums that are more focused on market share than sharing truth. Big names and big ministries have become equated with big credibility. In an media-driven age, it is certainly understandable that people look to the faces and names they see most often, doing work on a level that seems to be "world-class" or "high-powered".
There are more than a few problems related to such a dependence on "big name ministry" as the front-line representatives of our faith. For one thing, most people are not part of such ministries. Research has consistently shown that the mean average of most congregations is less than 100 people. These are small, intimate congregations where needs are known along with names, and trust is evident as everyone knows what's going on and who does what needs to be done. Are there vulnerabilities associated with being small? Absolutely, but the small size forces people to become involved to a greater extent and makes it harder for people to skate by while expecting others to do what they themselves should be doing. Simply put, every Christian needs to be involved in accurately communicating what or more correctly, Who Christianity is all about. It's not Billy Graham's job, Rick Warren's job, Kirk Cameron job or Tony Evan's job to be the main ambassadors for Jesus Christ.
Everyday Christians who work in the market place, serve at home, live in communities are the real front line soldiers serving on the real front line of faith who need to be adequately equipped to "share the hope" that within them. So, while we rejoice when a "big name" Christian represents us well in the media and cringe when they do poorly, we should not put all of our apologetic eggs in the mass media/big ministry basket. Your friends and family know you best of all, and it's up to you to live a credible life and to be intellectually prepared to explain what you believe and why you believe it. That's effective representation that is within your grasp and that truly effects lives to the glory of God.
Until next time,