Chip and Dan Heath more or less say in Made to Stick : How do you know when and idea succeeds?
When the hearer can articulate its essence as well or even better than you can.
How do you know when you’ve practiced effective ‘gospel neighboring’?
When your non-Christian neighbors can and do articulate something about the gospel more clearly, succinctly, concretely, and passionately than maybe even you could, because you live on their street.
What makes things compelling?
The Heaths say that ideas need to be dressed in a simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional story.
The great thing about the gospel is that it’s not an idea that needs outfitted with a simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional story. The gospel already is all those things.
This ought to make our gospel neighboring much less complicated than pitching a startup to a group of venture capitalists or crafting a closing argument to deliver before a jury. We’re not ornamenting an idea in compelling garb. We’re imitating a Person’s words of grace and truth, a Person’s deeds of love and mercy.
If you’re a church planter, you probably love ideas, are careful with forms, are sensitive to presentation, and are a connoisseur of subtle ecclesiastical practices. Great. Me too.
But we’ve got to be much more than that. And more often than not, less is more. Don’t be afraid to read the Bible, ask what is so great about Jesus in the passage, and then commit to acting on one way to immediately go about imitating him.
Your care with ideas, forms, presentation, and practices probably won’t hurt your gospel neighboring. But neither will they be the thing that makes your neighbors feel as though Jesus moved onto your street.
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