Most of you know I spend a great deal of time reading about “mission,” what with being a Mission Pastor & all. On Mondays, I try to get your thoughts going about stuff I read. Today’s thoughts come from Sentness: Six Postures of Missional Christians, by Kim Hammond & Darren Cromshaw.
I should’ve learned from the summer of 2010.
See, there was a lot of tension between the oldest daughter and us. The missus and I couldn’t really figure out where it was coming from, either. I mean, she’d just graduated high school and there was appropriate hullabaloo. She had a job but it wasn’t full-time. She had the university she always wanted to go to lined up for the Fall. Why was there so much tension when life looked so relaxing?
Then it hit me: Everything became a teachable moment. Being a teacher of sorts by trade, I was looking at every one of these sand-through-the-hourglass moments as an opportunity to make sure I’d done my job as a parent.
You know how to separate your laundry, right? Now, you know you’re supposed to keep air in the spare tire, right? You know you can start at the top when you’re dusting so you won’t get dust on what you already dusted, right? You know you can go to a website to get side-by-side comparisons for your electric provider, right? You know you need renter’s insurance, right? You know you can save money on movie tickets by going to the first show listed, right? You know the most important thing when looking for a church in your new city is…
…and on and on it went.
I felt like I had limited time and wanted to ensure I’d covered 18 years of parenting in a 78-day span. This drove her crazy. Because I was trying to fire-hose all that information.
The funny thing is I caught myself doing it again a couple of days ago. Turns out she’s graduating from that school she always wanted to go to and moving across the country and planning a wedding and requisite parties and there are oh so many opportunities for Middle-Aged Man to communicate all she needs to know, right?
Well, simple questions I asked were met with short responses. The tension returned. Thankfully, I caught myself. I was trying to fire-hose new information. I wasn’t…
…wait for it…
The funny thing is that we as a Tribe of Christ-followers try to do the same thing. We often try to pump what we believe to be vital information into the minds of folks we’re trying to love into the Kingdom because we kind of believe that if they just have all the facts, they’ll fall in love with Jesus.
You know we’re all sinners and we’ve sinned by intent as well as omission, right? You know Jesus lived a perfect & sinless life and therefore could be the sacrifice that is needed for a right relationship with the God of the universe, right? You know what the Bible says about (insert political agenda here), right? You know that science is all wrong about (insert scientific belief drawn from a Bible passage here), right? You know that Jesus is the answer for whatever…
…and on and on we go.
Most of the time we don’t realize that we’re creating that same amount of tension in folks we’re talking to. They have their own career happening. They have their involvements in the community. They have their own things they’re looking forward to in the future and we’re trying to fire-hose all this information into their belief systems.
This is where I think we could learn from Hammond & Cronshaw as they noted that much of the younger generation is spiritually seeking (even if they aren’t coming to churches for those answers) and there might be ways we can…
…and draw out their curiosity.
He (David Tacey) challenges churches to be attentive and to listen to how God is communicating with people outside churches. We need to draw it out of people rather than pump it in. We need to ask questions if we are to function as any kind of spiritual companion…Let’s use questions to invite people into conversation about faith and to discover where people are at. We are not seeking arguments, but conversations about what really matters. We collect good questions to use in different contexts. Here are some of our favorites:
* Where are you on your spiritual journey?
* Do you have a religious background?
* What were your earliest impressions of who God might be?
* What keeps you going when things are tough?
* Has there been a time in your life when you felt God was closest?
* What are some of your biggest issues with Christians today?
* Do you think there is any overall meaning and purpose to life?
See the difference?
I could’ve helped my daughter better prepare for her move to college (and also with her move across country and all the wedding stuff) by asking questions. You know, things about what is causing her the most stress. What she’s most excited about. What fears she might have. What she thinks might be the best part of her new job. What she might look for in a new church home. What the cool things are about her new neighborhood…
…and let her know that if she needs anything…
…that we’re here for her.
But my guess is that in those conversations, she’d be much more likely to let me know if she needed any insight or help or they’d more likely come up organically as we chatted rather than with my fire-hose of Middle-Age Man information.
It’s the same way with our friends who we want to experience the Shalom of the Kingdom Life, too. We can try to fire-hose our neatly packaged and pre-approved data onto their hard drives, or we can get to know people and love people and listen to them.
My guess is that posture will help draw them into a relationship where we can share our lives and experience on their terms, and a LOT of tension could be avoided…but it all starts with caring enough to listen.
Your thoughts, patrons?