It was St Francis of Assisi that said "Go out and preach the gospel and if necessary use words."
Interesting quote. As I spent the morning having coffee with a client today I recalled this sentence as I bore witness to this very idea plays out.
While sipping on my mocha the young waitress came to our table and started a conversation. She had obviously seen me over recent weeks with clients and this particular coffee shop is a regular visit on the salvo entertainment list for the local chaplain. She asked who I was and after introducing myself I explained that I was on placement and in training to be a minister. This opened up a whole conversation and she spent the next few minutes explaining how even though she was not a christian per se she did believe in God. She had been watching the chaplain ministering to these men from the hostel for quite a while. She also seemed unaware (as most people are) that the Salvation Army is actually a church and not just a welfare organisation. She proceeded to tell me that she had a great appreciation for the Army and was impressed by how unlike many other churches, we dont push the religion card and that we work in a way that is non-threatening. I explained to her that the way that the Salvation Army works is simply just an outworking of our faith.
It did get me thinking though. If people are obviously being influenced by what we do (even when we think we are not being an influence at all), does it really matter if we don't go around driving home the point that we need to go to church. Who is the church anyway?? Quite simply the church is people.
When I think of what Jesus did in his lifetime he simply made time for people. Yes He spoke the truth when it was needed, he rebuked and disciplined those who needed it, but for the most part Jesus just spent time taking an interest in people. It was this interest in a person, this availability that transformed lives. (oh and the Holy Spirit did his bit too :-) ) Once people knew how much he cared, that his interest in them was genuine, it was then that they listened to what he had to say.
So to for us. It seems to me that sometimes we can get so caught up in trying to teach and preach that we forget that more importantly we need to just simply be. My prayer is that God will give us the wisdom to know when to speak and when to be silent and just be. May he grant us each wisdom to know the difference.