Posts Tagged ‘Vincent Donovan’

Sermon 10-09-16: “Keeping the Promise, Part 8: How We Witness”

October 25, 2016


Most Christians are afraid of witnessing. Instead of admitting our fear, however, we often make excuses for why we shouldn’t witness. We tell ourselves, for example, that we don’t want to risk “turning someone off,” or that we don’t know someone well enough to talk about religion. What excuses have you used? This sermon challenges us to overcome our fear.

(Sorry… no audio or video this week. 🙁 )

Sermon Text: Acts 17:16-34

If you’ve lost a job recently, and have had to find a new one, you know all about networking. The idea behind networking is, when it comes to getting a good job, it’s not what you know, or how good your resumé is, or how well or poorly you interview, or even how skillful or well-qualified you are. No: it’s all about who you know. “Networking” is about marketing yourself to the right people, meeting the “right” people—people who can help you find the right job.

It’s about putting yourself out there, going up to complete strangers and introducing yourself, and making small talk, and talking about how great you are. Many people, especially people who are shy and introverted, would rather die than do these things.

A consultant named Andy Molinsky wrote an article in last month’s Harvard Business Review about the discomfort that many people feel about networking. His advice? Step outside your comfort zone and do it anyway. Otherwise, he says, you’ll make excuses to justify why you shouldn’t do it: “Networking isn’t that important,” you tell yourself. “It’s the quality of your work that counts,” or “People who network are slimy or full of themselves, and I’m not like that.”

I bring this up because I’m interested in talking about witnessing—that fifth promise we make to God and to one another when we join a United Methodist church. We promise to witness. Yet for many of us, the prospect of witnessing is at least as scary as speaking in public, or making small talk with strangers, or anything else that’s outside of our comfort zones. Read the rest of this entry »

We are not automatically Christian

September 2, 2010

In his book Christianity Rediscovered, Catholic missionary Fr. Vincent Donovan, who died in 2000, describes his work in the late-’60s and early-’70s among a large semi-nomadic ethnic group known as the Masai in East Africa.

After much soul-searching, he decided to throw out the textbooks on “how to do missions”—whose theories had failed to produce converts to Christianity among the Masai for more than a century—and simply present to them the gospel of Jesus Christ.

He describes great success—and failure. After spending a year with one particular Masai community, patiently telling a people who had no prior exposure to Christianity what Christianity was all about, they reached a moment of decision: would they or would they not accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and be baptized? He gave them a week to decide. When he returned the following week, the elders in the village said, “No. Thank you, but no. We don’t want to follow Jesus.”

He was devastated at first. Upon further reflection, he wrote: Read the rest of this entry »