Bishop of Hereford's Parish Magazine Article - January 2018
How do you fancy being a Trip Advisor for Jesus?
I must admit it’s not a phrase I instinctively feel at ease with, but let me explain why I ask.
I’m told that when we book holidays, we no longer take much notice of brochures issued by travel agents or holiday companies.
What persuades us to opt for a particular holiday destination is much more likely to be what other holiday makers have written on Trip Advisor.
In other words, it is the personal experience of fellow travellers which is compelling, rather than the “they would say that wouldn’t they” sales talk of the professionals.
Similarly, there is some evidence that exploration of the Christian faith is more likely to be encouraged by the witness of lay Christians rather than by the “they would say that wouldn’t they” talk of professionals – people like me.
Apparently 67% of the population in this country know a practising Christian. I imagine it’s a greater percentage in this diocese, given the very small population in most of our communities.
But only 1% of the population know a church leader - a vicar, minister or whatever. Again, the percentage would be higher in the small communities of Herefordshire and Shropshire, but the point is still valid.
If the Christian good news is going to be passed on afresh in today’s generation, it is lay Christians who are the crucial people to enable this to happen.
It’s when Lucy from Ludlow and Barry from Bridgnorth are prepared to commend the good news of Jesus Christ by what they say and what they do that spiritual and numerical growth become possible.
What would you write if you were asked to be a Trip Advisor for Jesus?