Recapturing the Vision

A little information about my background may help. I am not a “birthright” Friend. I was not raised in a Friends meeting. I grew up in a mainline Protestant denomination in Canada. When I accepted Christ as my Savior (or should I spell that Saviour being Canadian), it was through the evangelistic ministry of The Salvation Army. My first five years of spiritual growth was through their dedicated witness in word and deed. Perhaps this is where I got my desire for outreach.

When God led me into fellowship and ministry among Friends, I soon found that some of us have problems with words like “proselytizing” and “evangelism”. In some cities, I found ministers that did not realize that there was a Quaker Meeting in their town and yet the Meeting had been there for some years. I felt like we were hiding our light under a bushel.

I became a “convinced” Friend because I found a witness in the theology of the early Quakers such as Fox, Barclay and Penn. While the corporate silence was important, it was mainly their theology that drew me into becoming a Friend. Eventually, I found a spiritual home among what we call “programmed” Meetings.

However, even among some pastoral meetings, I find people hesitant to hold evangelistic outreach. It seems that many of us are quite comfortable when the issues involve peace, war, social justice, capital punishment and so on but when it comes to the area of personal or corporate evangelism we tend to shy away. Perhaps we don’t want to be seen as forcing our religious views on others.

We need to do more than just give a person a cup of cool water to drink. We need to share with them why we are doing it. When Jesus gave us the great commission found in Matthew 28: 18-20, He was not speaking to His disciples only but He was giving a command to all of us. Now I don’t think everyone of us is going to be another Billy Graham. Not all of us are called to hit the streets and hand out tracts. There are a myriad of different ways that we can share our faith with others.

I have a love – hate relationship with my computer. There are times when I want to become Old Order Amish but then the reality dawns on me that I was never great at doing manual labor. I have found though that a good percentage of people are getting their social networking and spiritual input via the internet. This is one avenue where we all could have some sort of ministry outreach without even leaving the comforts of home. For those of us that have a fear of public speaking, witnessing over the internet may give us more confidence.

I know I am touching on a topic that can be a hot button issue among Friends but when I look back to the early days of our Society, I don’t see it being an issue at all. Fox, Penn, Barclay and the rest of the Valiant Sixty, boldly went forth in apostolic power under the anointing of the Holy Spirit and shook the very spiritual foundations of the established churches and society as a whole.

We can no longer spend our time rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking ship. We need to recapture that early Quaker vision and fervor. We need to step out of our comfortable pews and share Christ’s love to a world desperately in need of a Savior.