It is highly likely that one or more of these elements of communication wasn’t quite right:
- Content — relevant themes or language
- Context — the relationship between people, place or knowledge
- Timing — connection to the mood or conversation flow
We all have a natural desire to feel understood, and if we want to introduce people to Jesus without the ‘crash and burn’ sensation, then it’s worthwhile paying attention to these three elements in our conversations.
Research by UCLA suggests that “feeling understood makes individuals feel valued, respected and validated”, which can lead to more positive social interactions and relationships. What better way to talk about faith than through this filter of understanding?
3 Ways to Open the Door to Conversation
1 — Be aware of the content that is relevant to the people you are interacting with. What are the questions about life or spirituality that they are asking?
2 — Be willing to talk about spiritual and philosophical ideas with an open-handed posture.
“…we articulate these realities with the words imparted to us by the Spirit and not with the words taught by human wisdom. We join together Spirit-revealed truths with Spirit-revealed words.” — 1 Corinthians 2:13
Society attempts to articulate spiritual concepts with language that may be different from the way we would describe it within the church. It’s important to be a translator of this language and bring context to the spiritual awareness that people are trying to express.
3 — Be sensitive to the different pace each person moves at as they explore faith. Create open spaces for discussion that meets people where they are at. We should default to listening, acting as a sounding board for their ideas and thoughts without feeling the need to defend ‘the truth’ as we know it.
“Right wins the argument but wise wins the person.” — Erwin McManus
Decide to approach conversations with a desire to learn, not just to give. Be okay to leave absolute truth at the door and trust the Holy Spirit to be at work through you as others search out faith.
“…I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized — whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ — but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life…” — 1 Corinthians 9:19–23