Yesterday I took my wife on a coffee date. Our daughter was baby sitting so we decided to take advantage of a couple of hours to date. So Starbucks it was. Jeana got Cinnamon Dulche Latte. Tall. I got the same but a Grande. When we do a mini date like this we usually turn it into a staff meeting. We talk life, ministry, and dreams. In between we surf the net. It’s all guilt free. So we are sitting together enjoying each other and lattes when an unexpected thing happened.
Pete was sitting close to us. He had two iPhones and an iPad. He was wired up. He was in town from Midland, Texas, to ride on the trails of Ruidoso. We have a good bike community here in Ruidoso. I can’t remember how the conversation started. I think he asked if we were from Ruidoso. We told him we were and had lived here almost six years now. We started the usual superficial chit chat that we would with anyone interested in talking. Jeana and I are conversationalists. Love people. It comes easy for us. As we talked there came point where I realized “this is a real conversation. Pay close attention.”
As we talked I realized there was an open door. So I asked the question that works in any culture these days. I asked Pete this:
“What is your faith story?”
He went on to tell us his story. He stated he believed in Santa Claus. The Easter Bunny. Etc. Then he ended the list with God. He believed in God. He had been in Alcoholics Anonymous. He knew of twelve steps like an expert would know them. He had obviously experienced them. When he stopped, I shared very simply and conversationally my own faith story. I whittled my story to the needed. I weaved 1 Cor 15:3-4 into my story. It says,
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures ….”
I spoke much of life change and hope.
His story was different, but he did state be believed in Jesus Christ in a saving way. I could have pushed him, but did not want to “question” his faith when he had given a faith answer. His analogies of Santa and Easter Bunny were odd, but his point what not them but that he actually believed in Jesus Christ. I’ve never heard a story like his.
When we left one amazing thing is that he hugged us like we were family. It was moving. It was a divine appointment. It was a God conversation. I’m so glad I was listening to the Spirit of God.
I’m glad I got to meet Pete. I hope you run into a Pete soon. Open up a conversation. Eternity waits. You could be the one to reap a harvest or sow the seed for a future harvest. I told him he needed a church family and need to be sharing his story with others.
Here are a few things you and I should consider each day of our lives.
Principles for Creating Spiritual Conversations
People have a story and want to share it. I’m rarely surprised when I ask the questions, “what is your life story and where are you in your journey with God?” People love to answer. No one asks people about themselves. I always start a small group with these two questions. Knowing people first is more important than teaching them.
We live in a story culture before a propositional culture. Western Culture used to have a built in entry point to faith conversations based on knowledge of and some respect of God. That is no longer the case. We used to be able to ask, “If you died today would you go to heaven or hell?” Or “In your personal opinion what do you understand that it takes for a person to go to heaven?” Those are still useful questions in the apologetic side of evangelism, but those questions have moved to the second and third conversations. There are exceptions, but not many. The new key question is “what is your faith story?” It works. It’s non threatening. It opens the door.
Sharing your story with a gospel scripture is the new gospel presentation. As I said above, I shared my story from a gospel centered angle. You can do the same thing. That is what the Apostle Paul did in Acts 22 and 26.