Losing the gospel people are trying to save

I have been struck recently by the number of calls for more “telling” of gospel. There has been a much higher level of criticism that we have lost the art of telling, often it has been generalist aimed at organisations perceived to be more concerned with a social gospel. Sometimes it has been personal, but usually both a bit misguided and I often think spoken from a lack of confidence in the gospel itself, in the past it was about replacing the hard work of loving your neighbour with a trite message that was spoken from a distance. Sometimes that distance was the pulpit and sometimes that distance was maintained even in the one to one conversation when proximity is not the issue.
It is very easy to replace the gospel with a pale imitation that disconnects words and actions. Recently I think it has been more nuanced and the gospel has been replaced by actions or franchised models of action that play on Christians insecurities that we need to “tell” people more explicitly why we are doing this or that project, and these models suggest they are joining back up the circle of the spoken and the social gospel. BUT they miss the point and Too often these models are a masquerade of proximity, a false notion that confuses being physically nearer people through meeting a need, when in reality there is no real relationship. It is a confidence trick built on sand, where people think they’re joining up the social and spoken gospel, but because it’s rooted in fear or anxiety, it can be just as trite as a message spoken from a pulpit in decades gone past. Yet perhaps even more worrying is that like any good confidence trick, neither the actor nor the recipient know they have been scammed until it’s too late or perhaps they ever know.

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