I’m a day or two removed from the interfaith event that was held at the local Ahmadiyya mosque. It was a really interesting time, particularly the addresses from respected scholars, a group which I somehow found myself in as a representative of Christianity. We heard from the local imam as well as the regional imam. There were representatives from the local Jewish community, city councillors, a vicar as well as people sharing about the charity work that they do.
I really do believe that there is something to be said for dialogue between people of different faiths. What is essential, however, is that an actual dialogue is happening. With this event, it was primarily a series of monologues. Everyone was given an opportunity to speak but there wasn’t anything meaningful happening during that time.
The real heart of the experience was actually spent before and after the event. Spending time talking with people and sharing a meal is where dialogue happens. I was able to have a conversation with a veterinary surgeon while we ate. Under any other circumstances, a conversation like that isn’t going to happen.
Above all, what this experience helped cement in my mind is the very same thing that I have spent the last 12 weeks studying, relationships. Real, gospel ministry primarily happens in the context of conversations with people, not during keynote addresses. The ministry of the preached Word is absolutely essential to the life of the church but so is the ministry of Word being spoken of around the table. If we want to have a real, effective method of evangelism then I think that is going to happen in the context of personal ministry. Outside of that, we move too quickly to shouting for our voice to be heard above the din.