The Lent season has never been a biblical mandate – and growing up, my church didn't particularly consider it to be a big deal. But I've since learned to appreciate the habit of repeatedly forgoing something in the lead-up to Easter, the most significant event in history. It helps me make space to reflect, connect with God, and prepare to live out my faith in the world.
And that opportunity is deeply important, because, in truth, many of us don't feel confident enough to do that. We don't find it easy to carry our Sunday faith-confidence into a Monday morning.
In its 'Talking Jesus' report last year, the Evangelical Alliance found that 75 per cent of Christians accept it's our responsibility to talk to non-Christians about Jesus. But, in the same report, more than 50 per cent of the Christians surveyed believed that others were better suited at doing this than they were. Think about it briefly, and you'll realise this is a statistical impossibility. If most of us think that the rest of us can do better, we can't all be right.
Being a messenger of the gospel is only one aspect of living out our faith. As Christians, we're also called to model godly character, make good work, minister grace and love, mould culture, and be a mouthpiece for truth and justice. This is the '6M' framework, developed by the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (LICC) to help Christians see how God is working through us, right where we are. And that's LICC's vision: that Christians would be confident to live fruitfully and faithfully with Jesus on their frontlines – the places where we live, work, and socialise.
When I speak to Christians about this, they nod their heads in agreement – they want to join God's kingdom work in their streets, homes, gyms, and workplaces. But what we often don't acknowledge is that, for most of us, it feels scarier to live out our faith on our frontlines than in our churches. It's harder when we're scattered than when we're gathered. We can feel vulnerable and ill-equipped – and that's no surprise.
Why? In part it's because we rarely give space on Sunday mornings for stories that don't end on a high. People share stories of when they've been confident, of when it's gone well. Setting the bar that high is making many of us feel like failures, surrounded by a sea of supposedly amazing Christians. But it's important to be honest, tell each other what is holding us back, and then work to grow in these areas.
Even Jesus was not universally accepted by those he engaged with – not even remotely close. If our benchmark of success is everyone responding warmly to the gospel, then even Jesus failed. But if our benchmark is that we go out into the ordinary world, join in with what God is already doing there, and expect to see fruit in whatever measure he decides – then we can all succeed. That's how it worked for Jesus.
With all that in mind, to help Christians grow in faith-confidence that lasts from Monday to Sunday, we launched our new devotional journey, Confidence, at the start of Lent.
Across 40 days, the devotionals help Christians to see that biblical confidence grows through being convinced, having a supportive community, cultivating compassion, daily consistency, developing competence, and having resolved courage.
These are simple things. They look like making regular space to engage with God, caring deeply about the things he cares about, keeping connected with the friends who spur us on. But they're not necessarily easy things. Life is never straightforward, and growing the kinds of habits and relationships that fuel our faith-confidence can be tricky. But as the journey's biblical reflections make clear, we're also not alone in it. God doesn't simply command us to be confident and then walk off; he's with us by his Spirit, his word, and his church giving us the nudges and encouragement we need.
You can still sign up for the devotional journey – whilst originally written for Lent, the messages are applicable at any time of the year. Imagine if there were hundreds of thousands of us doing this Confidence journey and then incorporating these themes into our daily lives. We would gain confidence from each other. Not brash self-confidence, but a humble confidence that reflects Jesus and would have a positive effect on all around us. We'd be emboldened to live with Jesus, right where we are. And, by God's grace, some will find our words and actions so compelling that they'll be drawn to faith themselves.
Jesus never intended discipleship to start and stop on a Sunday. Let's work with God and our church families to grow the kind of confidence that helps us join in with what God is already doing in our daily lives. If you want to get inspired, check out our website for encouraging true stories of how God works through ordinary Christians in everyday places – changing the world one place, task, and person at a time.
Ken Benjamin is Director of Church Relationships at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (LICC).
Republished from Christian Today UK.