Why is it So Hard to Proclaim Good News Like Jesus Did?
In the Gravity Formation Course, one of the core practices we train leaders in is to proclaim good news like Jesus did. (And I’m not talking primarily about preaching.)
To proclaim good news like Jesus did is to announce, in words and actions, the truth of who God is, who we are because of who God is, and what’s really real because of who God is and what God’s done.
The fruit of proclaiming good news like Jesus
As we speak in this way to one another, in context-specific and personal ways in our everyday lives, faith grows, communion with God and each other is fostered, we love one another as Christ has loved us, we learn to actually believe the gospel of the kingdom, and the Body of Christ is built up.
As we learn to make this a regular part of our speech and behavior toward one another in the church, it can begin to spill out into other relationships: with our neighbors, extended family, co-workers, and friends. We learn to be everyday “gospelers” to everyone in our lives.
Learning to proclaim good news has been one of the most powerfully transformative experiences of my life. But for most people who go through our training, it’s also one of the most unfamiliar practices. Most of us aren’t very adept at proclaiming good news.
We know how to give advice, explain concepts, assert opinions, offer guilt trips, deliver diatribes, and gush sentimental clichés. But proclaiming good news like Jesus did, bringing freedom and forgiveness and new life? Most of us have hardly any real life experience with this.
So how can we learn to proclaim good news in an authentic, winsome, natural way?
The early church learns to proclaim good news like Jesus
In Acts 4, Peter and John are arrested and questioned by the authorities for preaching about Jesus after healing a crippled man at the temple gate. After they were threatened and released, Peter and John returned to the church and told them everything that had happened.
Two things happen here that I think are helpful for those of us who want to learn how to proclaim good news in our everyday lives.
First, in response to Peter and John’s report, the church “lifted their voices in unison to God” and prayed. In the face of very serious threats of violence from the authorities, they prayed that God would enable them to speak the word “with complete confidence” and that God would bring healing, signs, and wonders through their work in Jesus’s name (4:24-30).
Second, after they prayed (and “the place was shaken”!), they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and “began speaking God’s word with confidence” (4:31). Notice that what they were asking God to empower them to do “out there” they started to do “in here” with each other. Their prayer begins to be answered right there in the prayer meeting as they proclaim good news to each other. The result is the flourishing and growth and social solidarity of the church (4:32-36).
Ask for power to proclaim good news, then practice
So it seems to me that one reason we aren’t very good at proclaiming good news is that we don’t pray to be empowered to do it. We think of it as a technique or a technology, when in fact it is a Spirit-inspired, Spirit-empowered speech act. It is inherently prophetic in that sense. It’s not something you can really do without the power of God.
Another reason we’re not very good at proclaiming good news is that we don’t have any places to practice with each other. We try to “nail it” on our first try “out there” when we have little to no practice “in here.” There isn’t enough continuity between how we talk to each other in the church and how we talk “in the streets.”
So if you want to get better at proclaiming good news,
- Pray that the Holy Spirit would empower you to do it, and
- Create environments where you can practice it together with others who want to learn to do it, and then
- Keep praying and keep practicing.
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