I went to a church conference this week in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The purpose of many of the insight sessions centered around ways to revitalize our churches and to be winsome witnesses to people outside the Church.
One equipping session that I went to was called “Patience and Christian Witness.” The facilitator of the group based his teachings on the book, The Patient Ferment of the Early Church. The author, Alan Kreider, argues that the early church grew through patient witness to people in society. The early Christians, he claims, were a peculiar people who stood out from the rest. They cared for people no one else would care for—the sick and the beggars—and they loved each other in ways that were unlike the rest of their society.
In reflecting on this idea, it seems to me that patience is a foundation from which Christians must seek to grow communities of faith. If the way we love and deal with others is the way Jesus demonstrated to us, then we must patiently wait for them to encounter Jesus.
As we wait, however, we are not inactive! This is a time when we serve our communities and love those who need to be loved. Just as importantly, it’s a time for Christ-followers to be taught and equipped, and to grow spiritually.
In the time that we patiently wait, our habits are shaped to imitate Jesus. We become witnesses first by our ways and then by our words.
Melanee Hamilton is an associate-in-training with Barnabas Initiatives