MORE ADDED JUNE 13
Brian McLaren speaks at General Synod
Reading his notes off his Apple laptop, here's a synopsis of what he said.
A hurricane dropped 100 inches of rain in Honduras in 5 days, moving river beds. Picture shown of a bridge that was now useless - over dry land, into the water. World changes and our old structures no longer serve. Old maps don't describe the world. Cathedrals are visited by 1000s, but only 10 or 15 worship there. Chruch isn't keeping up with change.
1 Peter 3:15-16: "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, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."
Always be prepared means you can't be prepared once for all. There are new questions. Sometimes we don't have answers right away. We reject and disdain those asking questions about faith that we don't like. Think of those you know who don't know Jesus or are asking questions.
Inquirer at his book-release party: "do you really believe all that stuff, or are you just making it sound good? You're the only one I think I can talk to about religion." This means she is looking for a conversation partner - someone she can talk to. World doesn't need a prepared spiel. We're afraid of being mistaken for this, so we don't talk much at all. We need to give people permission to talk naturally. Conversation is when you can disagree and and still be friends. Unhindered conversation. Most people feel frustrated and angry at religion. Need to feel safe, so she tests by saying, "Do you really believe it?" She wants to see if you're defensive or offended.
Christian college group moving his son into college, moves him in well, left an ad with jargon. Unbelievers have questions about our jargon we don't realize.
- Great Commission - is that what comes after a great sale?
- study the word - what's the word: abracadabra?
Unbelievers 10 years ago had a negative experience in church; today they have had little experience in church at all.
If you win an argument on religion today, you are judged argumentative. Forcefulness of making the point makes others nervous. Apologetics should not adopt a conquest mentality. Jesus defined it as news.
Unbelievers are looking for God, but don't want the church baggage - they think it'll make them worse people.
Ask a good question, then shut up and listen: "Tell me where you're at with God."
"My sister was always annoying, but when she got saved no one could stand her."
"So you don't want to be like her, but want to be saved?"
They don't stay away because they love evil, but because they don't want hypocrisy.
Unbelievers wonder about genocide in the Bible, and how Christians treat other people.
What if unbelievers want to help others through the church? Many churches would stop them, for not believing. But today people want to belong someplace before they feel comfortable asking questions there. Some stay away from church so they can talk about God with someone! They need to see our weaknesses and see us acknowledge them.
Our churches unintentionally become ingrown country clubs.
Evangelism is not argument, conquest or sales, but a dance.
Belonging precedes believing.
These days, peopel have to find God in other places, like Alcoholics Anonymous; churches are exclusive cell groups.
Evangelism is part of the evangelizer's discipleship, too.
Contemporary evangelism is about self, then church, then the world. Instead it should be reversed. Start out in the world, then church, then self. God loves the world.
You are more ready than you realize to have conversations with seekers. Don't stay inside the church so long you forget what it is like outside.