One of our practices at The Table is proclamation (or “Gospeling”)
Specifically, proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But what does that mean? Many of us perhaps think of Billy Graham, preaching the gospel to thousands in a stadium. What in the world would it mean for a community to practice proclamation?
Jesus proclaimed good news
Two of the Gospels summarize Jesus’ entire ministry by saying he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God (Mark 1:15, Matthew 4:17). The core message is that life in God’s kingdom had become radically available to everyone, regardless of one’s status, wealth, gender, pedigree, or past.
A life of meaning, joy, holiness, power, and love was… available! To anyone! It’s really good news! It’s no wonder people were pretty ecstatic about this.
Throughout Jesus’ ministry, we see him not only announce this good news, but in proclaiming it, also bring it about. Jesus healed people of disease. He freed people from horrific oppression and bondage. “If I drive out demons by the finger of God,” Jesus announced, “then the kingdom of God has come upon you!”
This good news was way more than we normally think of when we think of “evangelism.” It is a much bigger message than just “forgiveness” (although it includes forgiveness). The good news of the kingdom of God is a multi-faceted diamond with endlessly beautiful implications to reflect on.
This big, beautiful good news was also what he trained his disciples to embody and proclaim, and we see the results in the book of Acts and the rest of the New Testament.
In the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, God’s new world has dawned, and everyone can get in on it!
Good news is not a command
Proclaiming good news, then, is very different from telling people what to do. A command is something you need to do, news is simply something that has happened.
If our way of communicating with one other is more “command”-oriented, we will attempt to explain and apply things we think are “true,” satisfying our need to “know things.”
This leads to a strong sense of certainty and group identity, but over time yields a rigid culture that begins fighting anything that doesn’t fit within the framework of truth we’ve already developed.
Good news is not “influence”
Proclaiming good news is also very different from “influencing” people to do things.
Advertisers have mastered the art of persuading people to do things, not by commanding them, but by influencing them, preying on our desires to get us to take action, buying their products and services.
If our way of communicating with one another is “influence”-oriented, we will attempt to entertain, titillate, and agitate people toward the actions we think they should take.
Over time, this yields a culture where we are always seeking the next emotional “hit,” and boredom is the worst thing that could happen to us. We become numb to God and each other.
Hear ye, hear ye
In contrast to both “command” and “influence” communication, we have proclamation.
Proclamation is an announcement, a declaration of what is. It’s a “Hear this!” that changes everything.
We aren’t trying to tell people what to do or influence them toward certain actions. We are simply proclaiming the story and person of Jesus Christ (the gospel). Proclamation reveals a new world that challenges and offers itself in place of the story the listener is currently living in.
Proclamation gives new answers to the questions we thought we already knew:
- Who is God?
- Who am I because of who God is?
- What am I able to do because of this?
Proclamation of good news does NOT motivate with:
- Fear (“You’d better listen to God or else!”)
- Guilt (“How much has God done for you? Think about all the trouble God went through to get you into right relationship with himself!”)
- Shame (“You are nothing but a worm, an object of wrath outside of God’s provision in Jesus. You deserve nothing and are worth nothing outside of God’s action on your behalf; the least you could do is obey out of thanksgiving for all of this!”)
No, proclamation traffics in love, empowering the listener to rise up into their true identity and authority in God’s kingdom.
Proclamation is a challenging invitation to live in a new story. It requires a new imagination. It requires repentance. This is why Jesus followed his announcement of good news (“the kingdom of God is at hand!”) with an invitation to take action (“repent and believe the good news!”).
Proclamation happens in the worship service on Sunday.Proclamation happens at the water cooler on Monday. Proclamation happens at the dinner table on Tuesday. When we put the kids to bed. When we are talking late into the evening with a friend…
Simply put, proclamation is about declaring who God is and what he has done as good news for the listener.
Learning to hear with new ears
When we learn to proclaim good news to one another graciously, consistently, and contextually, we gradually become more aware of what God is doing right now among us, and more willing to respond to his voice.
We learn how to live in the good news of the kingdom, and proclaim this good news to each other as a joyous announcement of a new world that is open to them. Then we invite them to respond by surrendering to the good news and trusting Jesus right where they’re at.
The practice of proclamation is one we want right at the heart of this newly-forming community called The Table. Join us for a gathering!