Go ye therefore and preach the Gospel to every nation, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. But only if you're an Evangelical. If you're catholic, you should sit in the parish hall and complain that pews are empty.
-I Hesitations 2:13 Some people call that guardedly cautious. I call that the seven last words of a dying church. I'll say it again; those are the seven last words of a dying church.
I call them that because in any parish where you hear that, it is almost a mantra. Its the only response they know to any suggestion. We should have a free dinner and invite our community. We've Never Done It That Way Before. We should live stream our services so that people can see who we are. We've Never Done It That Way Before. We should have advertised days so that people can come meet with the priest personally, no appointment needed. We've Never Done It That Way Before. We should have an active social media presence with an online giving portal. We've Never Done It that Way Before.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. Its the last gasp of a dying church or parish so centered upon themselves and their weak attempts at evangelism that they cannot see outside of their self inflicted wounds. Oh! Did I say evangelism? You bet I did! Evangelism isn't only for the Baptists, or the Mormons, or the Jehovah's Witnesses. And we could learn a thing or two from them. No, we don't need to stand on the street corner with a karaoke machine and damn everyone to hell. We don't need to fake healings and talk like babies to prove we have the Spirit (those people have the spirit alright. It comes in a 40 oz bottle and sells for $3.00). But there are things we can learn from them.
But if we go knocking on doors people will think we are Evangelicals. If you go knocking on doors and people think you are an Evangelical, the problem is not them, it's YOU. When the Schwann's Man knocks on a door nobody mistakes him for the Avon Lady because he is clearly identified by his clothing and a name tag. And he's not selling makeup. When the Mormons come knocking on the door nobody mistakes them for Jehovah's witnesses because there are only two of them and their ties match. Yes, I am being facetious there, but you get the point; each group is clearly identified. I cringe every time I hear someone say, "Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words". I don't know who said that. It certainly was not St. Francis. Regardless of who said it, it is the most ridiculous, nonsensical attempt at being spiritual I have ever heard. We live out the Gospel. We are COMMANDED to live out the Gospel, not just by what we do, but also by what we say. Being a person who does good deeds is not living out the Gospel. I know plenty of atheists and agnostics who do that. Giving lip service to the Gospel and living a worldly life is not living out the Gospel. I know many Christians who do THAT.
We are commanded to go and preach, We are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we love our neighbors as ourselves, it shouldn't matter if We've Never Done It That Way Before. That's not the point. The point is that if we love our neighbor as ourselves and we are going to live out the Gospel, we must be willing to step outside of our comfort zone and do what we've never done before to reach those who have never heard before. That doesn't mean we compromise our convictions or our traditions. To the contrary, we hold fast to them and demonstrate their beauty while giving to our neighbor the best gift anyone could give another; the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.
in 1888 Edward S Ufford wrote a poem that states in part,
"Throw out the lifeline across the dark wave! There is a brother* whom someone should save; Somebody’s brother!** Oh, who then will dare To throw out the lifeline, his peril to share?
Do you dare? Do you dare to do it even though We've Never Done It That Way Before? Or more importantly, are you willing, as commanded by God and His Church to reach out to those who are lost regardless of personal sacrifice. That's the question. And if we don't start answering it with willingness and submission, we will one day be sitting in empty pews wondering what happened. Worse, we will stand before God and explain to him why we allowed that to happen.