This morning as I think about this past Sunday afternoon, I want to share with you how the conversation got started. Some of my co-workers marvel at how I can start us a conversation on spiritual matters from just listening to something that another person says about faith, God, church, culture, right and wrong, or some other facsimile thereof.
There are a few tools to think about when it comes to striking up a spiritual conversation, that I use and you can too to be a case maker/apologist/evangelist. They are prayer, be observant, and LISTEN. Here is how they work.
Tool #1: Prayer. This is the most important tool. No matter whether you are at a coffee shop like Starbucks or Blackstone's Coffee, whenever you go out on mission to do evangelism or not, you always, always, always need to go prayerfully. Pray is a discipline in our Christian walk. Some folks like to call it, "being prayed up." But if you are maintaining a walk of continual prayer, you will find the Lord moving and shaking things up that will help with the other two tools.
This past week the story of Sunday's event hit the local paper and its internet page. When I first saw it, I asked the Lord, "okay, is this something where I can and possibly be an ambassador for the Christian faith? Or is this going to be a waste of time where I could be doing something better? As it came to mind off and on throughout the remainder of the week, the thought for me to go became very strong on Saturday evening. The rest is history.
Tool #2: Be Observant. Another good tool to have in your arsenal is being observant. Simply stated, look around, and ask yourself "what do you see?" I think of the Apostle Paul on Mars Hill in Acts 17 when he and Silas were entering the Areopagus. Luke records for us that Paul noticed some altars,
So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. (Acts 17:22,23).
He noticed their altars with the names of their deities. We also can look around and see the idols and altars in our culture. At this event on Sunday, the Fredericksburg Coalition of Reason had a well done banner, looking much like the billboard on I-95 South between Stafford and Fredericksburg, VA.
But you and I can be observant, and use those things that we see around us to point out to people, which very well might lead to a conversation on something more important. What did I say that got the conversation going? "Hey guys, that is really a nice looking banner, I am glad you are here (thinking 'to hear the truth of America's Judeo Christian heritage'"). What was the result? A huge 'thank you' and a 'how can we help you?'
Tool #3: Lastly the third tool is LISTEN! This tool is a preamble to continued listening in a dialogue. With this tool however there are many things coming across the path of our ears that are stimulating our minds. Tweak yourself to be listening to things that are said by a speaker, or music that you hear, or anything else that comes across the sense of hearing. But do not just hear it.
There is a difference between hearing and listening. This will be important in our conversations with skeptics and anti-theists as well as our fellow believers. But listen to the sounds of the culture. The culture has a worldview. In fact, everyone that can think has a worldview. Don't just hear your surroundings. Listen to those surroundings. Ask yourself things like, what does that mean with respect to the Christian worldview. Is it acceptable to the Christian worldview or not? Do I have a chance to respectfully engage it in this setting or not?
If you don't have a chance, then take some notes and go home and study. Get in touch with a ministry that can assist you in assessing it and engaging it for the glory of God.
As I conclude this posting, my thinking is that if we go prayerfully, observe the culture and our surroundings, and listen for cues, there may not be a day that goes by where there is a huge potential for a conversation with someone about the most important things. I mentioned that my co-workers marvel about some of the conversations that I share with them at my workplace. It is because these tools that I have shared with you work. Test them, tweak them, and share them with others as we forward the Kingdom of God for His glory.
-----------------------In my few next postings, I plan to address more of the content of the conversations. I mentioned in my first posting that I spoke to four atheists. Really it was two and the other two took some literature that I had and sponged in our engagement. They really didn't say much, BUT they hopefully have a stone in their shoe. Thanks for reading this post.