Recently I was discussing a youthwork event we have at my work with someone. I was saying that the issue is that there aren’t enough conversations about faith, personal belief and Jesus stuff at the event.
I was critical of staff that they weren’t having these conversations although there did seem to be the opportunity to have them. The person I was chatting to about this said well, is the event evangelical.
Evangelical, what does that mean? It thought to myself. I knew what he was trying to say but I really felt annoyed he had said it.
Currently we live in w world where people like to belong and adopt terms and change them to represent what they think it means. (Example being gay and how the usage of the work has changed with its adoption by the Homosexual community.)
People who believe Jesus and try and follow that out are usually put into three camps. Hypocrite, Evangelical, Liberal, although all three can be used interchangeably if you wish to wind up the person you are chatting to.
Evangelical has came to mean a person or event whose primary aim is to convince/convert/explain in simple steps how to become a Christian.
Liberal has come to mean people or events who may not be as described above.
Hypocrite would describe anyone or thing that doesn’t live up to what you consider to be Christian, (nb, this is not dependant of how much you know of the person, event or Christianity in any form!)
By asking is the event evangelical, the question being asked was. “Is this event set up with the explicit intent of convincing/converting/telling the young people you work with in simple steps how to become a Christian.”
This got me really angry to be honest.
Why do people assume that if it is not evangelical it should not actually be somewhere where God is chatted about? When did anything where you discuss “evangelical’s” hijack the right to talk about Jesus where and when it happens. And turn everything into being evangelical.
Life happens and at times you different things come out and colour your personality or how you express your faith. Sometimes what you need is a Get Lost theology like the one explained in Pip Wilson’s Gutter Feelings. Sometimes you need to just be quiet and gentle, sometimes you need to scream into a big PA.
In work with young people especially you need to multiskill, a lot of issues need thought about and planned. If you have faith then it isn’t turned off because the event is not evangelical or conversely turned on by labelling an event as evangelical.
I guess it’s not the people involved to blame.
As a society we need to label people, Where as posh, middle class, chav, working class, ugly, beautiful people, the in crowd, evangelical, and so on. The problem is this labelling gives rise to negative stereotyping and an assumption that if something is not named as something then you cannot have an expectation of that coming out.
If you believe in something, and someone genuinely comes up and shows an interest in that thing you believe in. at which point is your response evangelical?