One of my best friends, let's call her Sarah, has recently turned vegan. She's been vegetarian since she was seven, but about six months ago she began transitioning to a vegan diet. It's no bother to me, she rarely mentions all the poor little lambs I'm killing, or the unhappy cows forced to produce all sorts of delicious things for me to eat (like cheese! Yum!).
Her husband, let's call him Steve, has always joined my husband and me in devouring a good steak at a summer BBQ. We've discussed the fine distinction between rare and medium-rare (and indeed blue!) and scoured supermarkets for a half-decent cut.
Steve has drifted toward a more pescetarian diet over the years, but has definitely enjoyed a Bambi or Lamb Chop recently with us.
The Facebook hack
It was to my great surprise when a certain post appeared in my Facebook newsfeed last week. Steve was proclaiming, "Cut the meat, cut the dairy. Go plant based". My husband laughed, "Looks like Sarah has hacked Steve's Facebook!"
The posts kept coming. Soon they were accompanied by images of puppies boiling in pots of water, live animals beaten in piÃ±atas, rodeo and circus cruelties, and pictures of broccoli.
"That's not Sarah," I said to my husband. "She doesn't preach like that". "Hmm" said Chuck, "I'm inviting Steve around for a chat".
The truth although it hurts
Sure enough, it was true. Steve had watched a 'life-changing' documentary and is now an all-out vegan. It doesn't bother me, but it irks my husband a little bit.
"Has he never heard of leading by example?" Chuck rages. "I'm sick of his vegan posts! He had no problem eating pepperoni pizza with extra cheese last week!"
Cue the lightbulb moment.
I've witnessed an enthusiastic new Christian alienate their friends. The ardent preaching about their life-changing moment wears thin pretty quick.
Then there are friends who recognise how that person's life has changed. They notice how last week's drunk guy isn't interested this week. His behaviour is different now.
We've definitely noticed how Steve, who ate pepperoni pizza last week without a thought, refuses to even go near cheese now.
This whole situation has raised a question for us. When it comes to faith, should you lead by example silently? Or should you get people's attention vocally? Should you flood your Facebook with Jesus? Or should you let your life do the talking?
My husband is pretty against 'preaching'. He speaks to his non-Christian friends about his faith, but usually only if they ask. He would never ever post a 'share if you love Jesus' image on Facebook. This is from his personal experience of being 'preached at' as a non-Christian, and only really hearing the truth when he was given a chance to ask difficult questions.
The best thing he was ever told about Christianity? "Yeah buddy, it doesn't really make sense".
So is relationship evangelism or street preaching the way to go?
You know what? I'm half-interested in Steve's 'street preaching' Facebook posts, but I feel more comfortable asking Sarah the curly questions about veganism.
Will I convert? I doubt it. I grew up with "The Song That Never Ends", so I can't see giving up Lamb Chop any time soon (is that even a good excuse?!).
How the message is shared is food for thoughtâregardless of whether the message is saving Bambi, or saving the world.
By the way, there is actually a Facebook page entitled, 'Christians against Vegans'. I hope its satire.
Claire Debrois grew up in Feilding, NZ, and holds a communications degree in public relations from Massey University. She lives with her husband in Wellington and works in digital communications for the Bible Society. She enjoys keeping fit and active, and is a field engineer in the Army Reserves.
Claire Debrois' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/claire-debrois.html