When I was at Greenbelt this summer I decided to go along to the free speed dating evening run by a Christian dating website. When I got home I received emails inviting me to join their website. I did join for the free trial, but didn't pay to become a member.
At the speed dating and on the website I didn't come across anyone I was remotely interested in. One of the reasons for this is that I found all those folks just too.... Christian.
And now I have to explore what I mean by that. I suppose I really mean Evangelical Christian. But it's still worth exploring what I mean a bit more.
It's difficult to express it, but a lot of Evangelicals seem to me to have a certain sort of personality. It's difficult to say without sounding insulting, but I find Evangelicals (in general) to be somehow simplistic, naive, timid and without a sense of humour.
This could sound just like prejudice, and it's quite possible I can see the splinter in my neighbour's eye more than I can see the log in my own, but I am convinced I'm on to something.
What else convinces me is missionary-type work that I do. Whenever I have a chat with non-church-goers I find their attitude and personality to be very different to church-people, and not in a way that reflects well on church-people. Sometimes non-Christians to me seem much more self-confident, self-assured, honest, blunt people, and I find that refreshing to be honest.
Is it possible that the type of evangelism that the church engages in in the west says something like this - "if you're feeling overwhelmed with guilt, or fear, or confusion, then come to Jesus who can help ya'll with all that stuff." And so people who do feel consumed by guilt or fear do come to Christianity and get something from it. But what about all those people who don't feel overwhelmed with guilt and fear, who are more confident in their own abilities and life. The way Christianity is presented to them, they don't see the need for it for themselves.
Is the whole theology of Christian evangelism in the west geared only towards a certain personality-type? If so, what theology needs re-thinking to engage with all types of people?
I'm not sure how the liberal church fits in with this. Again, I think it's easier for me to see this working in a tradition that's not mine. Perhaps those people who go into the liberal church are very individualistic idiosyncratic types who nevertheless somehow want to join communities. Still, I think we're only attracting certain types too.
There's a lot of talk in mission about adapting to different cultures, but what about adapting to different personality-types? What does mission look like when we try to do that?