Skip to main content

Jake and Nicholas

I had a visit from two young guys on Friday afternoon. Jake and Nicholas. They wore crisp white shirts, black pants, ties, and name tags. It was easy to see they were Mormons before they announced their affiliation with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They asked if I would consider myself a spiritual person and through my doorway, I said yes. After a brief exchange, I joined them outside on the porch. Then I asked them a bit about themselves. They were both from Utah, on a 2 year mission to do good works and talk about their faith. I then asked Jake what his experience was with Jesus. He paused for a minute, so I offered them a drink and they gratefully accepted. We all went inside, sat down in the living room, and drank water. Jake said no one had ever asked him that question before. I listened as he told me a bit about what he believed was important in his life and faith. I don't know that he really answered my question, but that's okay, I was listening to him and I got the feeling not many people had.

Then Nicholas piped in and started to talk about reading something in the Book of Mormon that changed his life. He read a verse to me (which was all about seeking for truth and having God reveal it to you) and then told me how he had prayed for God to show him what was true and it changed his life when he read the Book of Mormon. I was mesmerised by Nicholas' eyes when he spoke about pursuing truth: they practically sparkled. He was so sincere and passionate about his quest that I had to admire his hunger. Then he turned the question back to me and I spoke briefly about my journey with Jesus: from growing up in a conservative Christian culture where doing right and being a good person were emphasized. "But," I said, "there is so much more than that." The longer I walk with Jesus, the more I discover that he wants me, the real me, the raw me, the all of me. He has grace enough to cover the mistakes, no worries there, and he prefers that I come to him all messy, in the middle of my struggles, in honesty, instead of not coming near at all because I want to get myself together first. There is NO together apart from him.

They expressed appreciation for the time I took to listen and talk to them because not many people did. I then asked them if there was anything they were having a hard time with because I would like to pray for them. They said, "Sure!" Jake said he wanted more faith because it was hard not having people respond positively to his message time after time. Nicholas asked for prayer for his younger brother at home. I asked if it was okay if we prayed right then and they were fine with that. I prayed for Jake, that Jesus would be his protection from rejection, his strength when things got tough. I prayed for Nicholas' brother, that God would be a Father to him and Jesus his big brother like no one else could, and that the relationship between the two brothers would grow closer. I loved praying for those boys.

I read something today that reminded me of the salesman approach to faith that many use, including the LDS and many Christians.

They don't listen to what's already been said; They don't sit on the sidelines catching the drift of the arguments; they just assume that the world is waiting to hear what they have to say. - Steve Turner

I have seen this principle at work many times and have even taken part in some very well meaning but ultimately limited efforts of evangelism that I believe literally have dishonored the very people I was trying to reach.... I honestly wanted to bring Jesus into dark places. What I didn't understand was, first, he was already there, and second, I needed to see what he was already doing and co-labor with him in the process. Instead, I assumed that I had all the answers and that I needed to deliver those answers (all of them) in one moment. - Norm Strauss

Sometimes the best way to connect people with the Truth is to listen to them and honor their story.

These are Dean's ipod earbuds on my copy of The Message, open to John 15.

Comments

shane magee said…
great approach matte. well done. i've neve really understood why evangelism gets bracketed off as a separate (difficult, weird) endeavour to normal caring conversation.
Thaddeus said…
I agree. Talking to people as people, rather than potential 'customers' is always the better approach. Have you heard anything back from them?

What Do Mormons Believe?

Popular posts from this blog

the songs we sing

NOTE: I am going to make some pretty strong statements below, but understand that it is my way of taking an honest, hard look at my own worship experience and practice. My desire is not to be overly critical, but to open up dialogue by questioning things I have assumed were totally fine and appropriate. In other words, I am preaching to myself. Feel free to listen in.

---------------------

When I am in a church meeting during the singing time, I sometimes find myself silent, unable to get the words past my lips. At times I just need a moment of stillness, time to listen, but other times, the words make me pause because I don't know that I can sing them honestly or with integrity. This is a good thing. We should never mindlessly or heartlessly sing songs just because everyone else is. We should care deeply about what we say in our sung, communal worship.

At their best, songs sung by the gathered body of Christ call to life what is already in us: the hope, the truth, the longing, t…

comedic timing

One of my favourite jokes goes like this:
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Interrupting cow
Interrupting cow w---
Moooooooo!!

Timing is important in both drama and comedy. A well-paced story draws the audience in and helps it invest in the characters, while a tale too hastily told or too long drawn out will fail to engage anyone. Surprise - something which interrupts the expected - is a creative use of timing and integral to any good story. If someone is reading a novel and everything unfolds in a predictable manner, they will probably wonder why they bothered reading the book. And so it is in life. Having life be predictable all of the time is not as calming as it sounds. We love surprises, especially good surprises like birthday parties, gifts, marriage proposals, and finding something that we thought was lost. Surprises are an important part of humour. A good joke is funny because it goes to a place you didn't expect it to go. Similarly, comedic timing allows something unexpected …

singing lessons

When I was a young child, a visiting preacher came to our country church. He brought his two daughters with him, and before he gave his sermon, they sang beautiful duets about Jesus. They had lovely voices which blended well. The preacher, meaning to impress on us their God-given musical talent, mentioned that the girls had never had any singing lessons. The congregation nodded and ooohhed in appreciation. I was puzzled. I didn't understand how not learning was a point of grace or even pride. After all, people who have natural abilities in sports, math, writing, art, or science find it extremely helpful to study under teachers who can aid them in their development and introduce them to things outside their own experience. Being self-taught (though sometimes the only option available to those with limited resources) is not a cause for pride or celebration. Why? Because that's just not how the communal, relational Creator set things up.

I have been singing since I was a child. …