07 December 2006
May I call you friend?
How can Christians share their faith with those of other
religions? What is the relationship between dialogue and
evangelism? How can people of different faiths work together to
serve their communities? These are just some of the issues that are
addressed in May I Call You Friend?; a new resource designed to
help Christians to consider the issues involved in sharing their
faith with those of other religions.
This book is the result of work by the Inter Faith Relations and Evangelism Strategy Groups of the Methodist Church who have spent two years exploring these questions together. The process involved members listening hard to different approaches and Dr Elizabeth Harris, Methodist Secretary for Inter Faith Relations, said; 'Despite being a very diverse group, we found that we had more in common that we first thought. We all felt that to be able to share our faith with someone of another culture or faith, we need to first be able to listen and to understand their perspective, only then can we talk about Christianity in ways that make sense. Courtesy and respect are absolutely vital.'
May I Call You Friend? is designed for use by small groups and contains guidance for discussion about six key subjects: conversion; community action; presence; sharing stories; prayer; worship and listening; and talking of God. Each session has 2 case studies such as the story of the Yorkshire Methodist church that has seen the emergence of a Farsi-speaking congregation, all of whom have a Muslim background. There are also Bible studies and questions that will provoke vigorous discussion.
At the end of the book is a section encouraging the groups to 'turn words into action', providing resources for dialogue and evangelism, including useful websites. In addition to this, May I Call You Friend? includes suggestions for projects and resources for further exploration of the subject. There are also two papers written by members of the working group, which set out the principles on which the work is based; one about inter faith dialogue and the other about evangelism.
The Revd Graham Horsley, Methodist Secretary for Evangelism and Church Planting, who was involved in the project, said; 'This resource provides a great opportunity for individuals and groups to tackle some tricky questions. But we hope that people won't just leave it there Ð we want them to consider how they can use the lessons they've learnt in their local communities'.