Yesterday morning I was in my hotel’s breakfast nook with Trevor from Cambodia. Sitting at the next table was Glenn and Bob (not his real name). Bob was the only non-Christian among us and he and Glenn were having a typical “Geek” conversation about TYPO3 (the website content management system that was the focus of the conference we were all attending).
The conversation between Trevor and I ran it’s typical course, at least for me. We’re both of the school that the Western Church is largely ineffective, if not unfaithful, and that even the emergent movement has left its first love. The conversation was animated as we dismantled many of the church’s sacred cows and noted that little the Western Church actually does or practices has any biblical basis (weekly worship, buildings, preaching, pulpits, pews, altars, professional clergy, etc.). Then we began to speak of those instances where we saw the church being the embodied Jesus. We spoke of developing nation churches as well as those churches in the West where prayer and discipleship was actually practiced. And finally, we both shared personal stories of where we’d seen Jesus at work in our lives.
Did I say it was an animated conversation? We had a grand time together, moments that make new friends especially wonderful and it’s entirely possible that those around us couldn’t help but overhearing little snatches of the conversation. In the end we all headed for the last day of the conference together.
Later that day, I ran into Glenn in the hallway of the Irving Bible Church where the TYPO3 Conference was being held. It turns out that he had just returned from dropping Bob off at the airport. He stopped me and said he’d had an interesting conversation with Bob on the drive. It turns out that Bob, our non-Christian friend, had overheard Trevor and I talking candidly about the church, about Christianity, and about Jesus. Bob admitted that his view of the Christian faith was, shall we say, unsavory and that he’d grown up having no use for any of it, including this Jesus. But he’d heard something in a different light that morning and he asked Glenn to “Tell me more about this Jesus dude.”
The point is, what do you talk about when you’re out in public? You never really know who’s eavesdropping and you don’t know the affect your conversation may have on those around you. And so, here’s a couple of tips I’ve picked up as a “hitchhiker” along the way.
- Keeps Acts 1:8 in mind. You’re called to be a witness wherever you go. There are lots of things you can talk about, but not everything is worth a whole conversation. If your God talk doesn’t well up from within you naturally, it’s time to invest more of your time in Bible reading, prayer, personal worship, encouraging others in the faith, and other spiritual habits.
- If you’re going to engage in “God talk,” have the integrity to be authentic. This isn’t an invitation to slam the church or the faith, but it is an invitation to be honest about your faith. If you’re wrestling with doubts, don’t put on the air of having it all together. If you’re looking for something more, don’t be afraid to say so.
- Don’t be so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good. If butter won’t melt in your mouth, get thee to a nunnery or a monastery whichever suits you best. The Western Church is in dire need of disciples who are “real” and have lived a “real” life. Trevor and I laughed like hyenas and although we weren’t particularly profane, we sure as heck weren’t holier-than-anyone else. Having fun is not a sin. Either is smiling, laughing, and even carrying on some.
- And finally, expect God to do things with you, through you, and around you. Many Christians walk through life without keeping their eyes open for what God’s doing all around them. They don’t expect God to be busy intervening in their lives, let alone the lives of “innocent” bystanders. Keep your eyes open, both the ones in your head and the ones in your spirit. You may be surprised at what’s really going on around you.