I almost missed this brief entry, but I’m glad I didn’t. It is gold.
What do outreach and the sacraments have to do with one another? In a word: guilt–“us” with two much and “them” with none.
In my opinion part of the none-guilt problem is that the entire Protestant world has developed a centuries-long tradition of “saving” Roman Catholics–saving hypothetical Luther’s suffering terrors of conscience.
If we could build time machines and go back a few centuries to Medieval Europe we might make great Evangelists.
But since God is dragging us, kicking and screaming, into the twenty-first, it might be good to stop addressing people who aren’t alive anymore and actually aim our message at the people who are here with us.
It also may be we are free to acknowledge that, for whatever reason, guilt does not resonate for non-Christians of our culture and time and generation, and that’s okay. We do not need to go to guilt to get to Christ – that is not the only formula or plot line available. To say another way, we do not need to force non-Christians to feel something they do not now feel in order to fix something they never thought they had a problem with until we came along (especially if that is not the route we ourselves followed). Sometimes all we need to do is invite people to come and see, and then watch the story God writes as He moves to set things right.
As to the guilt problem, how can one’s heart not burn within when reading this?:
For Christians, it may be we do not need to believe the Gospel harder, we need affirmed to us that the story of our connection with the Gospel is valid (it is) — and therefore the Good News is for us, too. And our story may have been through relationships and “come and see” experiences, or never knowing a day we did not know Jesus, or something else. (Though I won’t delve into it, I find echoes of the need for one’s story to be validated in Galatians, where Paul affirms the Gentile “come to Jesus”/ “remember how you first came to know God” story and refuses to let the Jewish Christians impose another story on them and try to fit their story in a different mold).