Jesus sent out 70 people to prepare the way for his coming by proclaiming peace to people’s households. Those people were likely Jews who were eager to have a conversation about the possibility of The Messiah. It seems that our context today is very different. How does God send us out?
There seem to be two extremes when it comes to Christians and spiritual conversations. Either we come on strong with a Bible to thump people with or we understand faith to be a private thing that we only talk about with a couple people who are closest to us. Do you recognize yourself and your church in this?
We live in a culture that says it wants to be spiritual, but we rarely have deep level conversations with new people. Church people usually only have friends who go to church. For that matter, we don’t even necessarily talk about matters of faith with church people. It is so much safer to talk about the weather and sports teams. Spiritual conversations these days must be grounded in authentic relationships that live out God’s grace.
I was recently in a workshop that spoke to this issue. How do we live out our faith in the world? There were people on both sides. Some said you need to be upfront and essentially be the old school: “If you died tonight, do you know where you are going?” (My answer = to the cemetery.) Then we also had those who have probably never shared their faith hardly at all. The point of the workshop is that there is a place in the middle where we need to reside.
- Intentionally decide that you are going to pursue new spiritual conversations.
- Evaluate where you can meet people like a coffee shop.
- Be approachable, smile, ask people about themselves.
- Focus on the other person – leave your agenda behind.
- Develop a relationship where the depth of conversation can grow.
- Have an accountability group to which you report your spiritual conversations.
This isn’t about getting a notch in your belt. This is about finding new friends in the Kingdom of God. Who doesn’t want and need new friends? Okay, we used to be able to just do that at church. Not today.
I live in a conservative community which is driven by a profound story of a Roman Catholic evangelist who started several parishes. We think that everyone goes to church in our town. I was talking to one of our morticians recently. He said that 50% of his funerals are for people who don’t have any church affiliation. That should get our attention. That is not a good report about the state of how Christians in America share their faith.
God is gracious. We will be gracious with each other. Make no mistake. This is really hard work. I find it daunting, and I am an extrovert pastor who talks about Jesus for a living. But it must be done. It is the calling of God for each one of us. The rewards are very cool. You get to talk about things that really matter. You get blessed too in the process.
So how does God send you out like one of the 70 today? Where will you go? Who will you talk to? The harvest is always plentiful and the laborers few. How will you develop new relationships that can find the depth of meaningful, spiritual conversation?
So what are your thoughts on how to connect spiritually with people in our culture? Leave your comments below.