May 7, 2018
Having a relationship with Jesus makes life richer and more joyful and more peaceful than anything else available to us. There’s a tenacity and fierceness to God’s love through Jesus that strengthens people in the face of life’s struggles more than anyone can imagine. I believe it’s important for everyone to know this. Everyone.
Carey Nieuwhof has written of 5 Keys to Having Meaningful, Life-Giving Conversations with Non-Christians. Here they are:
1. Move Past Assumptions.
Often we have already pre-decided what someone thinks about God. We may know that a person doesn’t attend church regularly, so we assume that they think spiritual things are irrelevant. Really? We haven’t even asked the person yet. Yes, there’s a risk in asking, but make sure your preconceived hunch is not cheating you out of a conversation you are both interested in having. Statistically, we know that more people are interested in faith conversations than not. Odds are people likely wish we would bring it up.
2. Express Genuine Interest.
Ask people how they’re doing—really doing. Then listen. The first several conversations may never even mention faith. Ask about life and ideas and plans and achievements and concerns and anxieties. Be intentionally respectful. Empathize. Be motivated by a real desire to engage. If you don’t truly care about the person, don’t nudge the conversation into the faith arena. Don’t invite them to church. Don’t share your spiritual opinions. First comes caring and then comes sharing.
3. Know Truth.
Billy Graham stands out as one of the most influential Christian leaders of all time. He knew truth. He studied the scriptures to the point that he could not keep this life-saving message of unconditional and supernatural love and acceptance to himself. Out of this conviction, he shared his faith. Engage daily with scripture and apply the words of Jesus to your life. You will nurture and ground your soul, and God will use you.
4. Share Your Stuff.
Everybody has stuff. No one has it all together. Life is hard for everybody at some time. Be appropriately but profoundly honest. Talk about how you are dissatisfied, how you struggle, how you worry. If you share your thoughts on God in the absolutely false context that your life is perfect, your words will fly-fly-away into nothingness because what you have to say about God doesn’t really matter anyway. You obviously don’t need Him. You’ve got life figured out on your own. That will be a shame, when all the while you want to communicate that God’s redeeming love bolsters you and grounds you. The truth is that you believe that Jesus died for all the bad, unexplainable anguish and garbage going on in the world and going on in your life. Tell your friend that. They will listen.
5. Let Go.
You invest in people by sharing your spiritual world-view and, undeniably, the truth of what you share has the power to transform. When people lean into God-conversations, the possibilities for life-change is incredible. You will be offering a peek inside of a heart and mind sold out for God, and that is wonderful. This extension of yourself will be a gift that could truly transform your friend’s experience of living. Or maybe it won’t. Maybe someone will grow to like you but at the same time, will turn you down every time you invite them to church. This person who now trusts you and cares about you will possibly always let you talk about your Christianity but never be influenced to take on those views for themselves. That’s not your responsibility. That’s not your job. Let that go. God has got this.