For many Australians the very idea that there are Christian missionaries is offensive. Good willed people involved in such areas as agriculture, education, and medicine are okay, but if they talk about Jesus hoping to convince others of who he is, they become the target of anger and abuse. They are no longer acceptable.Proselytism, the act of attempting to convert someone to another religion or opinion is an act some believe should never be attempted. Even some Christians are embarrassed about it, particularly in the light of the vocal and often strong criticism coming from many quarters.
Despite this, Christians are all called to be witnesses for Jesus endeavouring to help others see the reality of who he really is. Seeing others come to acknowledge Jesus as Saviour and Lord is the heart of what we are about. Yet this leaves many of us feeling in a bind. The very thing we are called to do is often misunderstood, criticised and lampooned by family, friends and neighbours.
Over the past few months at our deacon’s meetings at Hobart Baptist we have been watching a series of videos titled “Missional Conversations.” It is a resource developed by Crossover Australia (an initiative of the Baptist Union of Australia) to help churches ask and discuss the hard questions about their church’s mission strategies. These videos have provoked deep and probing discussions amongst our deacons.