In answer to the question of how to communicate the gospel of the kingdom, I wrote yesterday that increasing familiarity with the biblical storyline is a necessity. I don’t mean that this is the first step in a process that leads to making “gospel presentations.” I’m referring to a long-term endeavor to continually orient our imaginations by the narrative shape of Scripture, to grapple with the overarching story and press it into all areas of life so that we intuitively grasp “how it works” in communities, relationships, family dynamics, and behavior in the marketplace.
The fact that this is a long-term and open-ended task of God’s people means that we might do well to look critically on the desire to package a tidy gospel presentation. It may be that formulating a gospel presentation that looks awfully like a sales pitch invites into conversations the sinister dynamics associated with sales pitches (suspicious listener, manipulative speaker, relational dynamics of coercion, etc.).
In thinking about communicating the gospel of the kingdom, consider that in Matthew 28:16-20, Jesus was with his “disciples” and gave them the commission to “make disciples” as they were going out into the world. “Disciples” are learners, those who are being trained.
According to the Great Commission, learners are to invite others to become learners.
Jesus’ words should affect how we think about communicating the gospel of the kingdom. From this perspective, Christians are people who are constantly learning and growing in familiarity with the Christian story. And the task of communicating the gospel of the kingdom to others is to invite them into the process of being learners.
If we are learners who are seeking increasing familiarity with the narrative logic of Scripture and the realities of the kingdom of God, then we may have much to say to others about it, based on our current understanding (more specifics on this to come).
But our posture as learners should affect how we approach others. We don’t need to manipulate others or engage in coercive conversations to bring about an intended result. We encounter fellow learners who are also on journeys of discovery. We can share what we know and we can appreciate questions as opportunities for us to probe the narrative more vigorously from new angles.
This sort of posture fosters patience in our own growth in understanding and in our relationships with others. It also fosters humility before the life-giving Word and in relation to others.