It’s a rainy and stormy Saturday morning here in Columbia, Missouri. It’s Hurricane Ike weekend, so I have nothing to complain about. I’m relatively cool (though humidity sux), I have power, and my home is dry. As I write this, it’s too early to gauge the devastation of Galveston and Houston, but it isn’t going to be pretty.
As I watch the winds whip through the trees and the birds and squirrels hanging on to the feeders (or hiding inside a feeder, as this squirrel did), I pondered and prayed “What’s worth saying in these days?” What’s worth reading? What’s worth writing?
That’s a question I have to help churches and church leaders deal with all the time. I’ve been invited into many conversations and heard a lot of monologues (sometimes called sermons) that communicated little and prompted me to ponder why I’d invested any of the limited time I have for such palaver. Just what is worth saying?
There’s a huge difference between what people “want” to hear and what they “need” to hear. However, that difference is ameliorated by the ability of one to communicate to another. In other words, if I try to tell someone what they desperately “need” to hear, but they’re not at a place where they can hear me, I’m wasting my breath and their time … and I might even be creating impermeable walls that thwart future conversations. If I’m going to have a meaningful conversation with someone, I’d better be cognizant of our relationship level and the “right” that I have, or have not, developed that might enable me to speak truth into their life.
So, what’s worth saying? If you’re a faithful disciples of Jesus, then you have a story to tell. You may be surprised to hear this, though. It’s not the historical story of Jesus your friends or your congregants are most interested in hearing. As important as that is – and it is important – that’s not what most people want or need to hear. The story you have to share is a much more personal and intimate one. What people want to hear about your faith, more than anything else, is how this Jesus guy turned your life upside down. They want to know that he’s for real in your life and that he’s made a real difference. They want to know there’s authentic hope in this God – not because some ancient book says there is (there are LOTS of sacred books that claim their god is powerful and great), but because you have the goods on this particular god. You know him personally and this God is awesome enough that it’s worth getting up in the morning and facing whatever storms that life tosses at you.
It comes down to what I call the ultimate question: “What is it about your relationship with Jesus that your neighbor can’t live without?” If you have the answer to that, you have something worth saying. If not … well, there’s always the weather, sports scores, and recent sitcom plots to fill in the time.