This is the first in a series of short pieces I’ll be posting on as part of the Lausanne Blogger Network, a group of Christian communicators from throughout the world who will be raising questions and discussing issues related to the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelism, which will be held in Capetown, South Africa in October 2010. If you care to discuss these questions with participants in the global Lausanne conversation, you can find this same post here. Since many readers here at Flirting with Faith are not Christian, I am hoping your thoughts and feedback will bring different perspectives to the conversation.
There is No God: Understanding the “Unbeliever” by Joan Ball
Can you recall a time when you didn’t believe in Jesus? Not a rogue moment of doubt or a season when work/family/life took precedence over service to others or attendance at church. I mean a time when the notion of believing that Jesus was anyone’s Lord or Savior fell somewhere on the spectrum between unlikely and absurd. I spent the first 37 years of my life on that spectrum–completely indifferent to Jesus unless I was disparaging Him or mocking His followers.
As an outsider, my perception of Christian faith was shaped things like mass media coverage of high-profile church scandals and the actions of people whose lives appeared to contradict what I perceived to be Christian principles. I did not mourn Heaven or fear Hell because I did not believe they existed. I would live. I would die. That was it.
As I enter into the Lausanne Conversation with seven years in the Christian trenches and a lifetime of history outside the faith, I look forward to discussing what it means to share the Gospel effectively in world with an increasing population of people who consider themselves to be atheist, agnostic or “spiritual-not-religious”.
As a starting point, I’d like to offer two questions for discussion:
- Does discussing the “unchurched” and “unbelievers” as if they are a homogeneous species to be converted rather than individual human beings with unique experiences with faith (both positive and negative) shut down communication before it begins?
- Might lifelong faith lived within the Christian subculture be a barrier to effectively sharing the Gospel with people for whom faith in a saving Jesus seems absurd? If so, what might we do about it?