Diocese of Manchester

The tenth theme we are exploring for #MoreThanSunday is Witness.

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‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.’

1 Peter 3:15

Podcast episode ten: Witness

Reflection

He bounded up to me in the tinned fruit aisle, his face radiating excitement. ‘What do you reckon?’ he said. ‘I’d say two-nil to England!’ His job may have been stacking shelves in Sainsbury's, but his heart was clearly on that evening’s European Cup game. It never occurred to him I might not be as interested in the football as he was. Enthusing to a complete stranger about the football didn’t strike him as odd.

We all talk naturally and enthusiastically about whatever grips us, whatever we’re passionate about: music gigs, holiday destinations, sports, favourite foods. But something seems to happen when it comes to talking about our faith. Many of us become tongue-tied and hesitant. Even those of us who have been involved in church all our lives can be nervous of talking about what and why we believe, and the difference faith makes to our everyday lives.

Why the nerves? Speaking personally, I guess it’s sometimes a fear of being out of my depth. What if my friend asks me hard questions about why God allows suffering, or about the dodgier moments of church history? What if they expect me to know my Bible inside-out? Or I may feel a touch of impostor syndrome: I don’t feel I’m a terribly good Christian, so who am I to represent the faith to the world? Wouldn’t it be better if an expert did the talking about faith: somebody who knows their Bible, has thought about all possible objections, and has a great prayer life?

I wonder if it might help lower anxiety levels if we can separate out two ideas: being an evangelist, and being a witness. Being an evangelist is a special calling. Some people are called by God to be sharers of the good news and are clearly gifted at doing it, whether in public events or one-to-one conversations. Being a witness, on the other hand, simply means being open to talk about something I’ve seen or experienced for myself.

Being an evangelist is a calling for a few. Being a witness is something any of us can do.

At its simplest, being a witness means having a down-to-earth reply if a colleague or friend asks why I have a faith: ‘I find it brings me inner peace’, ‘My church is such a loving community’, ‘My faith motivates me to make a difference in the world’, ‘The life and teachings of Jesus inspire me’.

Being a witness is simply me talking honestly about my own journey, in my own words. It’s not preaching, and it’s definitely not an invitation to an argument! It’s me saying: ‘Well, all I know is… it’s made a difference to me’.

The way most adults find faith is through getting to know a Christian. The journey to faith nearly always begins with friendship. And an essential aspect of any friendship is me sharing naturally what matters to me, what makes me tick.

All I need to do is keep it simple, and keep it honest. That’s being a witness.

Mike Starkey

Suggested Actions

  • Write down your faith story for yourself and thank God for what He has done.
  • If you feel able, share your story with a Christian
  • If you feel able, share your story with a non-Christian
  • If you feel able, share your stay on social media - make sure to add #MoreThanSunday to your post

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