Christianity 201

June 28, 2010

What it Looks Like From Their Perspective

My wife and I met at a medium-sized Christian camp.

Camp life — especially in summer — is like a city in miniature.   We’re no longer part of the action, but when we drop our guys off (one serving on staff for ten weeks, the other taking a 4-week leadership program) we probably see the place a little differently than some.

There were little conversations going on between camp people doing camp things.   Conversations that a few years ago we would have been part of.   (Maybe we tune-in more than others.)  Details that must be firmed up.   Things coming together at the last minute.   All good, all necessary, but all of it very internal.

I wondered this time if that’s how outsiders see us when (and if) they visit our churches.   Conversations about upcoming programs.   Discussions about people best suited to fill particular needs.   In-joking about something that happened in the previous worship service.

In other words, church people doing church things and talking about church activities.   All good, all necessary, but all of it very internal.   And all of it about the maintenance and operation of the institution.

I’m a rebel.  I just want to walk up to those people (the church people, not the camp people, who are younger, and given more grace) and even though they don’t me, just cut right into the conversation and say, “Hey, so what’s God been showing you this week?”

I think this is the ultimate conversation starter (and stopper) in any church lobby.     But it’s the question we need to keep coming back to.

What’s God been showing me today?   That we need to be a little more external in our conversations… because we never know who is listening.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.   (Col 4:6 NIV)

Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation. (Col 4:5-6a The Message)

Digging Deeper:  The passage from the Message discusses “living and working with outsiders” which may seem diametrically opposed to what we do in church.   But a recent sermon by Bruxy Cavey reminded me that many times non-believers and even people from other faiths attend our churches to check out how we fare at “doing life together.”

If our preoccupation is the next bake sale or the youth car wash, (or worse, the price of dog food at Wal-Mart) then they will pick up on this, and question the authenticity of our faith.   I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that you can guage the spiritual tone of a church by its lobby conversations.

So what’s God been showing you this week?

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