Christian nervousness? How to bear witness authentically
Do you suffer from a level of nervousness when it comes to talking about your Christian identity as an organisation? If so, you are not alone. In an increasingly secular environment, being up front about the fact that you are followers of Christ can be quite a daunting prospect.
The number of people who are Christian has fallen to an all-time low in the UK and when the 2021 census results are released later this year, it’s expected that those who call themselves Christians may fall below 50% of the population for the first time – a vivid illustration of the shifts that have taken place in this country over the past few decades.
A global anomaly
All of which makes the UK context quite challenging for organisations who want to talk openly about their Christian identity. In fact, having worked across a very wide range of faith and non-faith contexts, I would say that secular contexts such as the UK and Australia are perhaps the most challenging of all. If your organisation’s reach goes beyond these shores, it is worth remembering that we are something of an anomaly on the global stage. In fact, over 80% of the global population have some form of faith – and 2.7 billion of those are Christians. In fact, faith influences just about every aspect of life for the majority of people on this planet.
As Christians we are called to bear witness to our faith, even when doing so carries some risk to reputation, income or even life. There are risks, too, in being less than transparent about your Christian identity. Of course, you may want to emphasise different aspects of your organisation (and your belief) to different audiences, but if there is a divergence between how you talk about your organisation and what your audiences experience (or find online), it sets up a cognitive dissonance that destroys trust – one of your key assets in today’s society that prizes authenticity.
Jesus, however, also told his disciples, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd [or wise] as snakes and as innocent as doves.” In other words, we need to be strategic about our witness and how we talk about our Christian identity.
Addressing different audiences
On a recent Action Planning webinar, I talked about an approach to developing organisational messages that speaks across a range of audiences with integrity but which allows different entry points for different stakeholders. For a church audience, for example, you may talk about our biblical imperative in scriptural terms, while for more secular audiences you might talk about concepts such as justice that resonate for all humanity, as well as the role of faith-based organisations which are uniquely positioned in society, often filling gaps in government services (in many countries, for example, there’s been a long tradition of Christians establishing schools and hospitals).
And it’s always worth remembering that God tells us “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6) and “I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name” (Psalm 91:17).
If you would like to know more about how Action Planning can help you with your approach to messaging your Christian identity, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT KATE NICHOLAS
Kate Nicholas is a best-selling Christian author, preacher and consultant with Action Planning and, in her latest book, Soul’s Scribe, Kate looks at how to understand and share your “soul story” or faith journey. Find out more about her books, TV show and online courses at https://www.katenicholas.co.uk
Daily we see and hear the unique challenges faced within the Christian sector. The challenges are many and varied, but what remains constant is our clients telling us again and again the importance of working with someone who understands the significance – and nuances - of our faith.
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