Recently Josh Feay asked me to sub for him teaching his LEAD class while he led a mission trip to Rwanda. For those of you who do not know what LEAD is, it is a 9-week class that is intended to deepen and strengthen our Christian character. Being a “developer” according to my Strength profile, I said yes.
Each week in LEAD there is a topic to focus on such as Humility, Prayer, The Bible, Jesus, etc. My topic for the week was “Truth/Worldview.” Each week in class, we discuss a relevant scripture passage, as well as having several thought-provoking articles to read, journaling in response to a few questions, and completing an application exercise. Being the dutiful guy I am, I try and do everything I ask the class to do.
The application exercise for that week was to have a conversation with a non-believing or non-practicing person about their beliefs and to do this in an open (non-preachy) way. To make NO ATTEMPT to judge or to correct their views and only to share my views if they specifically ask. To simply attempt to LISTEN and UNDERSTAND their viewpoint. This exercise is intended to support the learning objective that Christianity is reasonable, but NO worldview is provable. So, we can defend Christianity while respecting other viewpoints, without trying to prove others wrong.
I prayed that God would lead me to people he wanted me to meet. Because of the way I am wired I kind of get this “laser focus” when I need to do something like this. (Please don’t ask my wife about this laser-focus thing I have.)
Funny how God “suddenly” and “unexpectedly” shows up when we open our eyes just a little. I had four conversations that particular week - two in person and two via email. Did these four opportunities magically appear just because I was teaching LEAD? Of course not. These conversation opportunities exist all around us most of the time. I think some barriers we put in the way are invalid concerns such as a fear about how someone might respond, or what questions we might be challenged with, or possibly that we don’t want to invade their personal space, or some other crazy made-up excuse. We are great at talking ourselves out of opportunities to engage people in a faith dialogue.
It is as simple as asking the right question with the right attitude. Questions like: “tell me about your religious experiences;” “did you have a positive or negative church experience growing up;” “what do you think God is like;” etc. And here is the key: just LISTEN and try and hear their heart. Then see where the Lord leads you.
In my case, the first person I talked to happened to be a Jesus follower but was not currently engaged in church. I ended up praying with her. The second guy had a disconnected church experience growing up, but now that he is a Dad, he realizes that he needs to get back to church for the well-being of his son. The other two were via emails with ex-Pfizer colleagues. In the case of my ex-Pfizer colleagues, the dialogue continues to this day.
I also should share with you all that a few months ago I began Uber driving. I did this for various reasons, one of which was to see how God would use me in this unique way. Some of you may know that I used to serve at the Next Steps kiosk at Black Rock on Sunday. This Uber ministry is sort of like Next Steps in a car.
I think God is waiting for us to engage so much more with the people we encounter each week, not just when you have to substitute teach LEAD. We have to convince ourselves that we don’t have to “preach” at people, we just need to extend ourselves a little, ask a few open ended questions and LISTEN to their hearts. That’s it. The results of these conversations are on God, not us.