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There is a crisis in the church. Christians are not confident and imaginative when talking about the Christian faith. They might be bold when they talk about recipes, diets, sermons and holidays but they lack confidence when it comes to talking about the kingdom of God with non-Christians. There is a pervasive fear that if you talk about Jesus you will be cut down and ridiculed. Think World War 1. If you put your head above the parapet the machine guns will get you.

No one enjoys being shot at either with real bullets or conversational bullets.

We need to understand and analyse this lack of confidence.

Consider the noble game of cricket. In cricket we distinguish a defensive stroke from an attacking stroke. Picture dour Yorkshireman Geoffrey Boycott resolutely defending his stumps. He blocks every ball. Contrast Boycott with Ian Botham who attacked every delivery with joyful, wild abandon. Many Christians only know how to defend the faith and this leads them into difficult, awkward and embarrassing conversations.

The hostile bowler (aggressive materialist) is fired up and breathing like a dragon.

“How can you believe in a good God who allows such evil? How can you believe in the Bible when science has shown it to be wrong?”

You squirm and pray the conversation will be interrupted. This defensive strategy is painful, exhausting and confidence sapping. You wish you had said nothing.

Many Christians then avoid evangelism. They stay in the trenches. The Great Commission in tatters (Mathew 28:16-20).

We need to learn something from the swashbuckling heroics of Ian Botham who loved to play attacking shots that would frighten the bowler. Of course the very best players deploy both defensive and attacking shots.

In my work with non-Christian students I love playing those attacking shots. My aim is to get people thinking about the dark side of materialism. If you learn how to do this you will begin to enjoy talking about our Lord and Saviour. Attacking strokes strip away that mocking demeanour. Secular people do not think about their invisible, unnoticed and unexamined materialist beliefs. It is their Achilles’ heel.

Here is a brief, pithy summary of how I play my attacking shots.

  • Explain the materialist faith. Human traffickers are just selfish calculating machines who commodify weak, vulnerable women on a daily basis…
  • Unmask the materialist faith. Materialism is a poisonous faith because it destroys individuals and communities by nurturing greed, corruption and commodification…
  • Contrast materialism with Christianity. Jesus told us to love God and treat people with love and kindness. Materialism disciples us to love things and use people…

If you would like to become a confident disciple of Jesus, sign up for our latest RealityBites resource: Slave Chronicles and Dangerous Beliefs: Discipling Others through Creative Storytelling.

Email mark@realitybites.org.uk

Mark Roques

Mark Roques

For eleven years Mark taught Philosophy and Religious Studies at Prior Park College, Bath. As Director of RealityBites since 2005, he has developed a rich range of resources for teachers and is a popular speaker at educational conferences in the UK, Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, Australia and New Zealand. Mark is the author of three books, including the Religious Education textbook The Good, The Bad and The Misled, and his innovative approach has led him to appear on television (Channel 4) and radio.