The church should be kind enough to speak the truth in love. The church should not be muzzled by a God-hating society. In order to be a light in a dark world, we must burn bright with truth. In order to speak the truth in love, we must speak up.
According to Dictionary.com, winsome means “sweetly or innocently charming; winning; engaging.” Today, it’s extremely common to hear Christians complimenting someone on their winsome words or personality. While there is certainly nothing wrong with being kind or meek, the church must come to understand that winsomeness is not part of the fruit of the Spirit. Certainly the reputation of being a jerk is not becoming of a Christian, but being people of the truth and communicating the truth in love is a missing reality in much of evangelicalism.
Consider two popular traps of winsomeness in the life of a Christian.
Winsomeness Can Prevent Real Community
One of the most beneficial aspects about the local church is the authenticity of the community itself. There is something unique about the community of the church in comparison to the culture around us. That authenticity is maintained by real relationships that include real and honest accountability. If the entire church walks around with a fake smile on and seeks to be charming and engaging rather than real and authentic—accountability is lost in the process.
A church that seeks to be winsome will often substitute accountability for charming engagement. This is the natural path of a group because it prevents any awkward moments or difficult conversations that are necessary in maintaining unity in the gospel. We must remember that fake unity is superficial and based on shallow connection points rather than the gospel itself which always probes deeper than the surface as it aims for the heart.
This is why Jesus commanded church discipline (Matt 18:15-20). Notice that Jesus did not suggest church discipline. This is why I do not recommend anyone joining a church that does not practice biblical accountability through real loving church discipline. As a church, we are not only to confront one another, but we are likewise to confess our sins to one another (James 5:16). If winsomeness is the goal, honesty will likely be lost in the fog. The goal of winsomeness will often prevent honest confessions because people desire to be liked. This is a real danger to the winsome movement that has swept through evangelicalism.
Winsomeness Can Silence the Church’s Prophetic Tone
Today the tone police is working overtime. If you dare share the truth on social media, you will be muzzled, silenced, and cancelled. We are being conditioned by the mob to be winsome and nice to everyone. In the process, the church is being muzzled and the prophetic tone of is being policed.
It’s very common to hear Christians being lectured about their tone. For instance, how many times have you heard the following statements:
People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.
You will catch more flies with honey than vinegar.