by Kathy Neufeld Dunn, WDC Associate Conference Minister (Kansas-Based)
A couple of months ago, I broke my French Press coffeemaker. It was made of glass, so it was bound to happen. I found the perfect replacement! So this does not become free advertising for the maker of this one-cup-at-a-time marvelous coffee creator, let me just say I would be happy to have a conversation with anyone who’s in the same boat without adequate caffeinated drink equipment.
Apparently I’ve been initiating lots of coffeemaker conversations, because at a recent lunch that my colleague Heidi and I attended, the topic of coffee came up and I mentioned that I had a new coffeemaker that I loved. Heidi smiled and said, “Kathy’s going to evangelize about coffee.”
Evangelize about coffee?! Well, yes, I do like my new coffeemaker and I am happy to share what I like about it, but evangelize?! This got me to thinking about evangelism. What would be my “elevator pitch” about Jesus if someone were to ask me? If I knew I had less than a minute to answer someone’s faith question, what would I say? I have always worried that I didn’t have a simple way to summarize the good news of Jesus for a spiritual seeker, but maybe I do, after all.
Often enough when someone I don’t know well learns that I am a Mennonite minister, the person asks what makes Mennonites different from other Christians. When I’m asked that, I have my 30-second response ready:
Mennonites believe Jesus calls us to reconciling love—whether that reconciliation happens between us and God, or us and other people we find hard to love, or even us and the earth. God made creation good, after all, so we should treat the earth with care. We believe reconciliation is central to Jesus’ good news. He always seemed to be welcoming people who were on the margins of society back into the circle of belonging, giving them another chance. He welcomed prostitutes, tax collectors, soldiers, kids, and people like us into his circle that he called the kingdom of God. Jesus’ kingdom is all about peace, love, and the hard work of reconciliation, and that’s what I try to be about, too, as a Mennonite follower of Jesus.
I think I can tweak this just a bit and have a fairly simple, but authentically Anabaptist-Mennonite response to the question, “Why are you a Christian and who is this Jesus person anyway?”
Do you want to take up the challenge? How would you answer that question? Like me, do you want to practice answering it with brothers and sisters cheering you on? The Year of Evangelism will give us all chances, if we dare to take them, to articulate our faith in Christ in simple welcoming, winsome ways. Yes, that’s evangelism. And frankly, I’d rather evangelize about Jesus than about coffee.