Surely all this talk of ‘making a Jesus-shaped difference’ is just sales-talk dressed up in religious garb? Come on – be honest! You’re trying to sell me something!
Of course we are! If we’re trying to change things – make a difference – then we’re selling something. And we want buy-in. What we’re not doing is charging for it. It’s a bit like Jesus being questioned by Pilate: “Are you a king?” “You can choose to put it that way …” So the straight answer to the question, “Are you trying to sell me something?” is, “You can choose to put it that way …”
That’s the conversation opener. And it’s an okay place to start. It’s where people already are, or where they’re on familiar territory. It’s their space – and we need to meet them where they are. What matters is where the conversation goes from here. Where it needs to go is to unpack the similarities and differences between what we’re doing and what they’re expecting.
If it is genuinely about making a Jesus-shaped difference (rather than benefiting our church), two things will stick out like a sore thumb. The first is the element of gift. We’re in the business of creating fellow disciples, not customers. As DT Niles put it, “We are only ever beggars showing other beggars where to find bread”!
And the second is like it: it adds value to people’s lives. The call to follow Jesus is the invitation to walk the road to Life. “Life in all it’s abundance”, as John puts it. Gift and value are what drive us to talk about this stuff to people … surely?