30 November 2008

Naming the Name

I had the privilege of hearing the President of Methodist Conference, Stephen Poxon, speaking to individuals from our District the other day. You can find some of the points that he made in this post.

One of the points that captured my imagination was the idea of 'Naming the Name'. Stephen didn't elaborate a lot on what he meant by that - although it was clear that he meant 'not being afraid to speak the name of Jesus' - so the following reflections are my own views and not his. (In other words, if you don't like what this post is saying, blame me and not him!)

As I understood Stephen, he was saying two things: 1) That Christians (and Methodists) have become shy about speaking the name of Jesus in their everyday conversations and that we have to regain the confidence to be able to do this; 2) That this doesn't mean that we engage in what he called 'bible-bashing' or constantly trying to cajole unwilling listeners to become Christian converts.

How can we confidently speak the 'name of Jesus' in an authentic way without either being shy or overbearing? I think that probably we first need to start learning how to talk to other Christians about these things. I know that the more I learned to talk to other Christians about my faith and God's working in my life, the easier it became to talk to non-Christians. And there really is only one solution for it: practice. I'm not sure it can just be done in Sunday services, either. I expect it requires more small-group involvement that encourages everyone to share what God is doing in their lives.

The other aspect, though, is that I think we also really have to get rid of the idea that
The Church makes converts rather than the Holy Spirit makes converts. If I'm brutally honest with myself, I know that I'm guilty of sometimes hoping this or that person who I've been speaking to will come to church.  And I think that whenever we have this 'side' when we Name the Name, we won't be sharing good news as much as we will be trying to 'market' Christianity.

Maybe the big question is:  do we really think we have good news?


Sally said...

Naming " the name" is so important or we run the risk of becoming a churchy cult, and/or promoting our own personality, which is even more dangerous.

Doorman-Priest said...

It's not just the Methodists Pam.

PamBG said...

DP, I accept that it's not just the Methodists.

It seems to me that most Christians fall into two categories. The majority can't speak about God when it's appropriate to do so. The minority can't judge when it's proper to refrain and sound like used car salesmen.