Why can’t we get it through our thick heads that unchurched, non-Christian people aren’t ‘buying’ Christianity? They aren’t because they don’t think they have any problems . . . at least none our faith can solve.
Let’s face it, a lot of people choose not to think. They just do. They do what they feel. Unconsciously, they do what their daddy did, what feels good, what they won’t get ridiculed for, what gets them the most strokes, the most power or the most sex. That’s what they’re about.
Here’s my short list of problems people have or will have, whether they acknowledge them or not . . .
- I’m going to die . . . I just don’t really believe it. If I have to die and there’s a good place to go, I’d like to go there.
- I don’t want anyone I care about to get sick, get hurt or die.
- I want to feel good about myself, but my past is a trainwreck.
- I want to matter and make a difference, but I have no idea how.
- If I marry, I want it to be good and I don’t want to be divorced.
- If I have kids, I want them to be healthy and happy.
- I want to belong with some people . . . to be known and accepted. I want to be loved for who I am, not just what I can do for people.
Jesus has solutions to every single one of these problems. If not solutions, answers. Evangelicals keep talking about “giving your life to Christ” and “inviting Jesus into your heart” and “surrendering to God’s call on your life.” My goodness . . . no wonder ‘outsiders’ stay outside. How do you connect all that church-speak to the problems I listed? You can start talking, but an ‘outsider’ will be through listening long before you’re done.
God gave us one mouth but two ears. That’s a clue right there. If we could listen to people long enough to find out what their problem is, maybe they’d be interested in our solution . . . or better, God’s solution.
Many people, especially Americans, live wrinkle-free lives for long periods of time. But eventually, something happens to disrupt the status quo. An illness, a job loss, a financial crisis, the death of someone close, a troubled son or daughter, a breech in a close relationship, a divorce or a breakup, a move that turns out to be a disaster, or a realization that you’re alone . . . that no one knows you or really cares about you. These are disruptions. This is stuff that puts people in ‘trouble mode.’ This is when people start to open up to answers God has for them. It’s been said, “God won’t be all you need until He’s all you have.”
Before you go charging into someone with the Gospel, ask God “What would you have me know about this person? What would you have me say or do here?” And follow what He says. If the person isn’t disrupted . . . if they don’t ‘have any problems,’ God’s likely going to tell you to “just love them.” That’s what He tells me most of the time. But as you love them over time, you’ll learn their problems. And you’ll be there when they get disrupted. Then you can offer a solution to their problem, presented in a personal, authentic way.
Will they ‘buy’? Will they embrace your Jesus?
No way to know, but that’s not your job. You report, they decide. Outcomes are God’s deal. Our role is to step up and not chicken out. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them,” says Jesus in John 6:44. God does the work, and thus He gets all the glory when someone becomes a Christ-follower. We just obey what God puts us up to . . . we love and serve and pray consistently, that’s our gig.
Question: Who are the ‘outsiders’ you are committed to? Other than your church friends, who will you be there for when they hit disruption?