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How to tell strangers you’re a Christian without saying “I’m not”

How to tell strangers you’re a Christian without saying “I’m not”

A blog post by Maggie Nancarrow describes the problem that Progressive Christians face in a world gone mad over red coffee cups.

How many times have you started a conversation by saying “I’m Christian, but I’m not…crazy/fundamentalist/mean/convinced that there is a war on Christmas”?

Nancarrow argues that beginning with “but I’m not” allows the very things that Progressive Christians are not to define what we might call “Regular Christianity.” Instead of offering a negative defence, Nancarrow suggests, let’s start declaring what we are, positively and out loud. Her examples include,

1 I am a Progressive Christian, and I believe that God loves me and you and everybody exactly as they are, unconditionally.


4 I am a Progressive Christian, because I believe that God rose from the dead in order to prove how much he [sic] loves us.

One might suggest that adding the qualifier “Progressive” itself undermines the normalizing of Nancarrow’s defining statements. Why not simply say,

7 I am a Progressive Christian because I believe that through Jesus, God declared that death, hate and oppression are never the last word.

Citing Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s installation sermon as one of her influences, Nancarrow asks, “How are you reclaiming what the Jesus movement truly is?” Read the whole list here, then share your favorite positive ways of introducing yourself as a proud and unapologetic Progressive / Christian.


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Anne Bay

Since I am older now and am an official senior citizen, I see life quite a bit differently than I used to. I’m with others who all have different beliefs and their own ideas of spirituality. I don’t even attempt to discuss religious ideas with them. Once in a great while, if someone asks, I’ll just say I was brought up Episcopalian -something I am very thankful for. The older I get, I’m more spiritual, and attend various Episcopal churches on usually major feast days. So, my idea of a spiritual path continues to change. I’ve found that most people my age are not the least interested in discussing their current or past religious experiences. I think in the future, more people will have more of a philosophical-spiritual make-up, and not the traditional style church membership I grew up with.

Chris Harwood

Thanks for the answer. I notice that it isn’t all walk and no talk. You still talk to those around you about why you do it and your involvement in ministry/different groups.

JC Fisher

Talking is fine, Chris, if it’s conversation, not talking at.

As a recent thread (I believe) here had it (from a PEW study), when someone is talked at about Jesus, the LESS they want to hear.

Speaking of walking the talk: I’m the coordinator for my church’s hiking club. I (and other club members) often invite people from the community to join us, and it’s NEVER a part of the program to evangelize!

…and YET, while hiking along, I can’t count the number of deep (and sometimes religious) conversations I’ve had. Have any of these hikers (in the past 5 years) become Episcopalians? Not that I specifically know of . . . but they know we’re here. A faith community that let’s them “walk their own path”, so to speak, but offers them a Way to do so together! This way of evangelism may take more than 5 years to bear fruit—but, as always, it’s GOD who gives the growth!

David Curtis

Not to be snarky, but I would hope that my actions, and not my words, would bear witness to the fact that I am a follower of the Way. Preach the Gospel always, and use words if I have to.

Chris Harwood

This isn’t meant to be snarky either, but what actions demonstrate Christianity that no other people do? You can give to the poor, volunteer at the soup kitchen, tell the truth, march in a social justice parade, etc. all without Christianity. The Golden Rule exists in all religions and most atheists would agree it’s a good idea. And there are lots of people who wear crosses who aren’t Christian, so how does one demonstrate Christianity so that others will recognize it without words?

David Curtis

Chris: good point. And no snark perceived. ????.

Speaking from my experience only, my friends, coworkers, and family all know that I am actively engaged in servant ministry, even if they would not define it as such. When I recently asked for grocery bags from my co workers to help out a food pantry, it led to a conversation about why I was doing this. This led to a conversation about how faith plays out in my life. Another friend of mine, who is agnostic, tells me that she respects my ministry and my faith b/c I walk the walk. We don’t always agree on things, but she gets it.

And I do the same with others. When I see someone who is very involved with x group, there is usually a story that goes with it. And I try to ask about that story when I can.

Slightly different take on the topic, I think, but one that works for me.

Prof Christopher Seitz

If it is not regarded as too high-brow…

Thomas Aquinas has some very good reflections on “God hatest nothing He hath made.”

Mary Jo Irino

David Snyder, you are the only “non-judgemental” individual Christian on this site! I sing in the choir of a labeled ‘fundamentalist’ church, but it does not mean that I believe the same, as each one of these members. I believe God is sovereign. I believe Jesus bore the sins of all, when he gave his life on the cross. Prior to yesterday, I did not believe, a need to insist that all peoples believe the same as I. I do not know what Bible you read, but my Bible instructs us to send missionaries out into the world to share the love of God,& the love of Christ Jesus to “every tongue; every tribe; every nation.”

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