broadly christian

2 05 2013

People are very polite, but I often feel like I’ve walked into the wrong room. Like an astronaut in a fruit market, people haven’t a clue what I’m talking about. Assemblies, weddings, funerals, baptisms. I talk about Jesus, but there’s a radical disconnect between what I am saying and what people hear; and between what lies behind what I say, and what people hear.

Last weekend I spoke at a local Scouts District St George’s Day parade. I was asked to give an address that was ‘broadly Christian’. I understand why. I told a friend, who laughed and said,

“How can you be broadly Christian?! Surely you’re either  Christian, or not?”
“You obviously don’t know much about the Church of England,” I replied.


this isn’t me

I know why I was asked, though. I don’t do being ‘broadly Christian’, but I can do being a Christian sensitively. You get me, you get my Jesus-ness. Asking me to be broadly Christian is like asking me to be broadly human. I either am or I’m not. I just might choose not to flaunt my humanness to the goldfish, though it’s my humanness that keeps it alive.* [* hopefully this metaphor will be forgotten in 7 seconds] 

How do you do speak in a ‘broadly Christian’ way? In the Scout context, I talked about working together for community and how this plays out for a follower of Jesus: servant leadership, like Jesus; caring for the unloved, like jesus; loving our neighbours, like Jesus. 

I may have slipped from being ‘broadly Christian’, into being specifically Christian, because I am specifically Christian. But hopefully sensitively Christian. There’s no explicit evangelism, no altar-call, no telling people what they should or shouldn’t do. No points-scoring. Jesus was always publicly much harsher and much more challenging to the leaders within the faith than he was to the followers on the edges of it. 

But I am not just a motivational speaker, a self-help guru, a comedian (!), a children’s entertainer – I am a church leader, one who represents the church – who represent Jesus – to the community. So what I say has to be specific. It can never be bland platitudes. Talking about following Jesus as if he’s real seems a good place to start, even if people don’t quite get it. Yet. 

Addendum (!?)

After reading this, one of my friends said Eddie Izzard summed up what she thought was ‘broadly Christian’ – only watch if you can handle a bit of mocking and some bad language. Consider yourself warned. 





5 responses

2 05 2013

Well said. Too many christians, in an effort not to be laughed at or to be acceptable, have watered down the gospel so much that it is hard to find. We need people who will speak up, sensitively but authoratitavely.

2 05 2013
Rebecca Cooke

You are right-don’t do the comedian thing. i sometimes think they chose vicars to be hale fellow well met(do you get me)I didn’t think that was the point.

2 05 2013

spot on. “broadly christian” would be like “broadly married”… happy or unhappy, fulfilled or unfulfilled, loved or not loved, faithful or faithless – whatever – I’m married. Or I’m not. I can’t be sort of one or the other. Ditto with “Christian”.

3 05 2013

Great! More Eddie please.

3 05 2013

Reblogged this on Dark Lord.

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