The Best Way To Talk About Your Faith
For to be a Christian and not just seem like one is the greatest thing. - St. Jerome
Because of what I do for a living, it's hard to steer clear of conversations about church, faith, God, Christianity, and all that comes with those seriously loaded topics.
During my recent sabbatical, I tried hard not to reveal my occupation when I encountered people on my travels. Whether at a restaurant, brewery, on tour, or just waiting in line for something, and someone struck up a conversation with me, I'd do my best to avoid having to talk about anything remotely religious.
Whenever they asked me what I did for a living, I'd tell them I was a writer working on a book, which wasn't a fib because I am a writer (my side hustle), and I was working on a book.
But somehow, those conversations seemed to find their way back to faith.
Sometimes it was because they would ask me what the book was about, and I'd have to tell them, which would lead to the whole pastor thing. But there were also times when faith came up organically, which always surprised me.
I figured that one of two things was to blame. It could have been that I just seemed like a good person to talk about faith with, and they just went for it, or God was messing with me. It was probably a bit of both, to be fair.
Even though I was trying hard not to have to "talk shop" while I was on my sabbatical, I couldn't seem to avoid it. I also discovered that people were genuinely curious about what it was like to be a pastor in our divisive culture.
I also had to resist the urge to qualify what kind of Christian I am by comparing myself to the type of Christians I so desperately don't want to be identified with. I have always felt I needed to do that when people discover I'm a pastor. "I'm a Christian pastor, but I'm not one of those Christians."
I discovered it was easier to share the positive aspects of what kind of church I pastor and what I believe about God. A wise person once told me, "Who you aren't isn't interesting." I need to really internalize that truth; we all do.
Honestly, being positive and talking about what I believed and thought in favorable terms without ripping anyone else opened people up for deeper conversation.
I'm learning that one of the most important aspects of being a Christian in our world is to be clear about what you are for, far more than what you're against. It's not an easy thing, to be honest. There's a lot of awful stuff being done and said in the name of Jesus these days.
But if we are to be the kind of people who actually draw people to Jesus, rather than pushing them away, we need to practice more winsome ways of talking about our faith.
May we do all that we can today and every day from this day to speak openly, confidently and kindly about our faith. May we be granted opportunities to do this in compelling and positive ways. May we show the world that we truly are Christians because they see our love.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.