Two missing ingredients in your witness…

20 Feb

In my last post I gave a brief introduction to the book I Once was Lost and mentioned the thresholds concept as a helpful way to think about where your friends are on their spiritual journey.
The two thresholds I’d like to highlight for the purpose of this blog (conversational evangelism) are trust and curiosity.

Trust
It’s no secret that Christians can come off as pushy, weird, mean, and/or just plain dumb. We don’t have to own all the terrible things ever said or done by other believers but we do have a responsibility to try to represent Christ well. For the folks the authors talked to, deciding to trust a Christian was almost universally the first significant step they took towards God. There are lots of implications here but one is to remember that building a relationship with someone is always a worthwhile task. I don’t mean this in the sense of taking on a project and then never calling again if your friend shows no interest in Jesus. I mean that an investment in someone else’s life, no matter what that looks like – is always a good investment.

If your friends look like this when you bring up faith - maybe you should establish some more trust before moving on

If your friends look like this when you bring up faith – maybe you should establish some more trust before moving on

Without this trust element, we get nowhere. I can remember having back and forth conversations with folks where I was answering their objections and questions thoughtfully and felt like I was making real headway, only to have them dig deeper and lobby more objections. Reflecting on these experiences through the lens of the thresholds I can see that one of the issues was not having first established trust! Alas, I can’t go re-do those conversations, but I know moving forwards that I want to know about people first and foremost before I start trying to answer their questions – even if the questions are what they lead with.

Interest
This topic has vexed me for years, and it’s only getting worse. I have a core belief that people DO desire God, yet so many of the conversations I have feature the sentiment that “oh – I’m spiritual but it’s not a very big deal” or “oh, yeah I never really think about God…” What!?

The authors explained that people became curious when they encountered scenarios or information that their own personal experience was insufficient to explain. For example a young man was astounded that Doug wanted to move his wife and young child into one of Denver’s worst neighborhoods because he thought poor people have something special spiritually and that Jesus would be there. This led to hours of conversation that wouldn’t have been interesting to the student without this confusing and provocative action.

We then, must present Jesus as he was: provocative, intriguing, and dangerous. We don’t have to make any of this up – it’s all in the Gospels! We also must live in ways that exhibit these characteristics; confusing and surprising our friends until their curiosity boils over into actual dialogue. If someone investigates our lives, they should be confused by the actions we take for Jesus and demand to know why.

There is more, but again I think the book is worth the read and encourage you to buy a copy. If you’ve been spiritually stuck in relationships with some of your friends, maybe you could think about where they are on the threshold scale and consider what is the best way to meet them there.

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2 Responses to “Two missing ingredients in your witness…”

  1. Scott February 21, 2013 at 5:43 am #

    This is a very helpful message, Steve. Thanks for posting!

    • stevewimmer February 22, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

      Scott – thanks for the encouragement!

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