Creating God Moments Not Conversation Killers is the topic that will be discussed today on RIOT Podcast, a Christian Discipleship Podcast.
We read a story a while back talking about US Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Hughes. He was based in Najaf, Iraq and his team was caught in a standoff with a mob of Shiite (she-ite) Iraqis. He was in command of a heavily armored patrol unit from the American 101st airborne division. The people were resisting his unit from entering their city because they were fearful they would desecrate their holy shrines. Although the patrol's intentions were peaceful, the standoff would probably have been disastrous if not for the quick thinking of Lt Hughes.
Hughes picked up a loudspeaker and barked out three simple commands to his troops. First, he told them to take a knee; second, to point their weapons toward the ground; and finally, to look up and give everyone in the hostile crowd a friendly smile. A few moments later, the hostile defiance melted away, as smiles and friendly pats on the back replaced shaking fists and screaming voices.
This story gives us an example of how important it is to understand how to communicate with people in a world that has become increasingly hostile to the traditional kinds of conversations Christians attempt to have. A famous author once said, “We must learn to find the back door to people’s hearts because the front door is heavily guarded.” Much like the Shiites Lt Hughes dealt with; the many people we hope to reach for Jesus react defensively. They anticipate and are amply prepared for any direct attack on the holy places and sacred shrines of their hearts.
Today we are going to talk about 5 Conversation Killers and how we can avoid them.
Our message rarely gets through because what they hear is that my worldview is better than your worldview. Instead of opening their hearts for Jesus, often times we are creating a standoff, filled with hate and anger. Colossians 4:5-6 “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 1st killer of spiritual conversation is unbelief. Do we really believe that the people in our Mon through Sat world want to talk about spiritual things? If you don’t, then nothing else we talk about today will help you, until your change your mind about this matter.
The 2nd greatest conversation killer is pre-conversation history. In his book UnChristian, David Kinnaman quotes one outsider who described Christians this way. “Most people I meet assume that Christian means very conservative, entrenched in their thinking, anti-gay, anti-choice, angry, violent, illogical, empire builders, they want to covert everyone, and they generally cannot live peacefully with anyone who doesn’t believe what they believe”.
Like it or not, our Christian jewelry, T-shirts, TV programs, tracts, and bumper stickers all serve to create a pre-conversation history that colors the perception of everyone we meet.
The 3rd conversation killer is our awkward transitions. Imagine watching a football game with 2 minutes left in the game and your team was driving the ball down to score for the win. And the doorbell rings, you’re all by yourself at the house and the last thing you want to do is answer it. You’re annoyed, but you go quickly to see who is at the door and it's 2 Mormon boys. You have 2 choices at the moment, engage them in spiritual talk or brush them off and get back to your game.
You chose to stay and they begin to share with you in an awkward way about their faith. You listen and respond back to them awkwardly because you didn’t fully know what to say to them. Awkward transitions create awkward feelings, which leave people feeling pretty uptight. Most people do not regularly sign up for conversations that leave them feeling weirded out. So how do you transition into a spiritual conversation correctly?
The 4th conversation killer is our language issues, not theirs. Let’s share a funny story that will make this point quite obvious. The story goes a few years back, there was a guy that had a job that required him to move to Salt Lake City.
After the family had settled into their neighborhood, one of the neighbors came over to welcome them to the neighborhood. As the woman began to engage his wife in conversation, she asked. Are you LDS? The wife looked at her husband and replied, “Well neither one of us is ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder. So we are probably not LDS either”.
This is a funny story, but it makes an obvious point. When we lead with questions such as “Are you saved? Have you been born again?” People feel like outsiders. When we speak Christianese, we are unwittingly saying, “If you want to have a spiritual conversation with me, you’ll have to do so on my terms.”
The 5th conversation killer is our disrespect. Sometimes we think our spiritual gift is to be quick to speak and slow to listen. James 1:19 tells us to do the opposite, slow to speak and quick to listen. If we are not quick to listen and slow to speak, it will be quite easy for others to feel disrespected. Personally, no one will want to show up to a conversation when the other person does all the speaking and doesn’t listen or care about what they have to say.
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