We were given homework at church this week … and I, for one, love it. (Unfortunately, I won’t be in church next Sunday to pass it in, so I thought I’d post it online so I could prove I did it). The challenge we were given was to create an “elevator pitch” to explain the Gospel.
For those of you who either weren’t there, or don’t know from other places, an elevator pitch is a quick, succinct, explanation of the core points of an idea in a way that someone who is about to rush off in another direction can be given the gist of an idea without all the details, but in a way that will leave them wanting to work with you on the project.
So here we go (and this isn’t even the full point of this post):
- in life we seem to have two great needs – the need for community (relationships) and the need for what we do to actually matter.
- at the same time, much of life seems like it is devoid of meaning and even our closest relationships can be less than peaceful at least some of the time.
- in fact, it seems that we, humans, have a general tendency to screw things up. Even our best laid plans, with all the good intentions in the world, have a way of resulting in unintended consequences. Solving one problem leads to three additional ones. It seems like we, at best, get to choose the least destructive of many so-so options. It’s like the entire systems we have built will naturally screw over some people and that leads to cycles of things happening that lead to more negative consequences that lead to more attempts to solve things that lead to more ways of screwing things up …
- and, yet, we feel this hopeful twinge inside us that somehow, some way there is a better way available to us — if only we could find it.
- the gospel is the announcement that a new way of living is available to us. It is right here available for us now if we would just turn around and rethink everything we think we know about how the world works.
- this announcement is that there is a person who came to show us what living a truly meaningful life looks like. And this meaningful life looks like sacrificial love. It sounds oxymoronic, but the way to feel connected is to look after the needs of others before yourself. The way to happiness is to give everything away for the sake of others. The way to find life is to lay yours down for anyone who needs it.
- this sounds unbelievable and unachievable, but think about what seems to make almost everyone really feel like what they are doing matters — it usually comes when what they are doing benefits others. Think about the times we feel most connected to those around us — it usually happens when we stop caring about getting our needs met and are able to fully give ourselves to others because we feel loved, safe, and wanted.
- while this may sound far-fetched, the proof it is true is even more far-fetched; the person who showed us it is true was killed because people couldn’t believe this new way of thinking, but God raised him from the dead and proved that self-sacrificial love is at the core of how our universe works. The Way of Jesus is the way to a meaningful life with true connection to those around us. In his resurrection, God proclaimed that Jesus is Lord and he is the person we should follow.
- While this may sound too far-fetched to some – it just might be true and, if it is, that means everything about the way I live needs to change. The fact Jesus is Lord needs to change the way I shop, the way I eat, the way I relate to others, the way I think about the planet.
- I am being invited, as a citizen of this new kingdom, to join in the project of mending everything that is broken … not in some future day, but right now with every little, boring, ordinary decision I make in every aspect of my life. I can choose to be selfish, me-centred, and “street smart” or I can choose to be selfless, other-centred and “eternally focused”. I can focus on things that are like vapour that disappear in an instant, or I can focus on things with eternal significance like hope and love.
- The good news – the gospel – is the fact that this way of living is the way to find meaning and connection in life. It might sound impossible, but I dare you to try it.
OK, so that’s my attempt at an elevator pitch (I’m a bit long-winded even in an elevator apparently). But why I decided to write this down is because I have been thinking a lot lately about the last few points — that this should materially change the way I live. I have also been spending a lot of time thinking about the future of church; what we as the church may need to think about in order to reach the missing generation(s) in our churches.
While I won’t go into the many reasons why people (think 15-45) aren’t in church, the reality is they are missing and I have a desire to see them re-connect or connect for the first time. I don’t think they aren’t coming because they have heard the gospel and decided it’s not relevant, I think they haven’t truly heard the gospel.
Instead they have heard gospels of sin management (what you can’t do and call yourself a christian), gospels of heaven and hell (which isn’t really relevant to daily life), and gospels of politics (which tend to be very uninteresting and divisive simultaneously).
And yet, I fully believe that if a church were to engage their community in identifying;
- The needs of the community they are in,
- The services and support systems that are not easily and affordably accessible within the community,
they would quickly find a large group of people looking to make a difference, to feel part of the community, and looking to do things that feel meaningful who would be attracted to join with them in solving these issues.
Sure, they may not immediately buy the whole “resurrection from the dead” thing, but every major turning point in life starts with a first step.
Imagine a church helping to develop an economy in a rural community, or providing child care or senior’s care in a community with none of these services (providing jobs at the same time), or imagine a church developing an innovation hub that provides employment for youth that would otherwise migrate to larger centres …
… the gospel should change my daily life and make ordinary, mundane actions mean more than the sum of their parts. And I’m starting to think about what that could mean.
Grace and peace!