Reaching Three Types of People at the Same Time

This year at Power to Change, Université Laval, we are trying to reorient our activities to serve three audiences:

  1. The committed Christian, who wants to grow in their faith and maybe even help others to know Jesus,
  2. the young adult who grew up in the church, but who is asking himself whether this faith is really for him, and
  3. the student who has never known faith.

We want to offer a space where each of these people feels comfortable to share their questions, struggles, joys and victories.

So, in all of our activities, we are asking ourselves : “How can this message, this bible study, this discussion group, or this social time, help our three people draw nearer to Jesus?”

We also believe that one community can reach all three of these people because fundamentally, all three need the same thing. The apostle Paul wrote,

” Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. “ (Rom 10:17).

and elsewhere,

” Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her 26 to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word… “ (Eph 5:25-26)

It is the word that God uses brings people to faith, and it is the same word that he uses to sanctify them.

We can assume that our second person, the questioning young adult, is situated somewhere between the convinced Christian and the non-Christian, but I’ll go farther, to the point of saying that all three face the same barriers to belief. We all swim in the same cultural waters, and the narratives we believe about life and the world all come from the same sources. So just as much as the three need to hear the same scriptures, they all also need to learn to think critically about what the world tells us.

On this subject, Charles Taylor gives us a very helpful idea: the social imaginary :

“Not primarily [what] we think, but what we take for granted – the sort of intuitional background that we assume when we do ‘think’ about things… [things] most of us would never think about, precisely because they are what we take for granted.” (How (Not) To Be Secular, Reading Charlers Taylor, by James K. A. Smith, p. 35)

If we all come from the same cultural context, we are all carrying the same baggage of presuppositions, whether we’re Christian, atheist, agnostic or “spiritual, but not religious.” So, to make faith believable for these three types of people, we need to deconstruct the cultural lens through which we see the world, and in its place, build a comprehension of the world according to the real world that God has created.

So, the three all need the same things, and we can, generally speaking, serve all three at the same time.

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