Useful tools for the ongoing task of witness into the world; prayer, listening, and thanksgiving.
Neglected Tool Three: Thanksgiving
Sadly, we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving as a holiday in the UK. It’s a shame because I love the idea of setting aside an entire day to thankfully reflect on all we have and share in the company of other thankful folks. Oh, and Turkey (you can keep the yams though).
While in the UK we are neglecting the opportunity for a thankful heart each November via an official holiday, in the church, we may have ongoing gratitude neglect when it comes to evangelism. We are usually quite good at celebrating successes – e.g. salvation stories – but we’re not always so good at being thankful simply for the God-given opportunities in the everyday experience.
Paul reminds us we should give thanks in all circumstances, it is the very will of God in Christ Jesus for us (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Paul knew that the posture of a thankful heart impacts a person spiritually and emotionally and physically. As has often been the case, science caught up with biblical teaching in time and the idea of thankfulness (or gratitude as it is most commonly referred to) has now been long championed by psychologists who recognize its value to help people in numerous ways such as sleeping better, raising self-esteem, growing in empathy, and increasing mental strength, to name just a few.
With that in mind, thankfulness becomes a tool for evangelism simply by helping us go into the world as healthier people, which would be worthwhile enough! And yet, beyond the advantages of the mental and emotional benefits, gratitude helps us with evangelism most of all when it functions as a reminder of God at work in and through us.
Thankfulness can help us see beyond the ordinary of daily life, to the extraordinary ways in which …