Come and See / Go and Be

We live in a inwardly focused world where people are at the center of their own world
Everything is about them
How they feel
What they think
Where they are going
Where they have been
Their thoughts
Theirs opinions
Their beliefs
It is all about me – mine – my
But, as believers, we can and must learn how to live outwardly focussed lives in the inward focussed world
To go into our everyday world and touch lives for Jesus

To live outwardly focused there are some principles we need to understand and embrace
Principle #1: Go
The Great Commission begins with a two-letter word – “Go”
We need to move out to where the people live if we hope to live outlawed-focused lives and actually impact people
The best spiritual conversation usually occur in places where others feel comfortable
The Church has always had a “come and see” approach to impacting people with the Gospel of the Kingdom
“If you come to us, we will listen to you – in our building, on our timetable. If you use our language and dress and act like we do.”
This approach worked once but is no longer an effective means of influencing and impacting people with the Gospel of the Kingdom
And, this “come and see” approach of most churches is far from the “go and be” mentality modeled by the Church in the book of Acts
Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Jesus did not invite people to the “church” temple… He went out to where they lived, worked, and played
He went (“go”) and He lived among the people interacting with them on a daily basis where they lived and worked
Principle #2: Significant spiritual conversations usually occur when you least feel like having them
Any time you feel anxious, fearful, uncomfortable, or downright scared to death, there is a good chance that a significant spiritual conversation is waiting for you on the other side of those feelings
If you don’t give in to them!
Luke 9:23-24 “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
Jesus states that we must lose our lives to really find them
We need to die to our need to be heard – and learn to really, deeply listen to others
We need to die to our opinions and thoughts so as not to judge and criticize and reject
We need to die to ourselves and our agendas
We need to die to the need to be the center and the focus of the conversation
If you are waiting for this to feel natural
If you are waiting for it to suddenly happen – supernaturally happen
It will be a long wait
It will not feel natural or normal…
Dominating the conversation
Peppering people with too many questions
Jumping to negative conclusions
Promoting your own brand of the Christian faith
Talking about your own spiritual experiences
Sharing your most recent insight or revelation
Having a monologue with yourself – boring the other person to death
These are much more normal and natural than carrying on a valid, interesting, Spirit-led conversation where you do a lot of listening and a lot less talking
The good news is …
The more you die to yourself and listen to others as God intends
The more God will increase your capacity to care
The more people will sense that you genuinely care about them
The more they will open up to you
The more you will get to share spiritual truths with them leading them to Jesus
Principle #3: God will use all your experiences to create an opportunity to share
As you chat and actually connect with people you will find that they share things in common with you
A common experience
A similar situation
The same doubts
Identical struggles
These will be normal, natural things for people to experience in life
Raising kids
Financial struggles
Pointless, boring job
Disappointment with church
Having been hurt by people they trusted
These connection points are where you are able to create a “God space”
An opportunity to share what you did in a similar situation
An open door to share a short piece of your testimony
Better still – a place to dive in gently and ask questions (see Principle #4)
Principle #4: Good questions create great opportunities for listening
Show people that you are interested in what they are thinking by asking follow-up questions to what they are sharing
However, don’t overdue the number of times you ask a question. Keep it natural and allow the conversation to flow
Otherwise it will appear and feel plastic and unreal
Some good questions to ask your unsaved relationships to move the conversation into spiritual things would include:
What would you say to Christians if you knew that they would listen and take you seriously?
Have you ever had a Christian attempt to convert you? If so, what thoughts or feelings did that experience stir up in you?
Have you ever met anyone or experienced anything that made God seem real to you?
What kind of experiences did you have with organized religion as you were growing up?
What would it take to motivate you to give up your Sunday morning (Saturday night) to attend church?
If God called you on your cell phone and gave you an opportunity to ask Him one question, what would you ask Him, and why?
What do you understand the core message of Christianity to be?
What do you find to be the most difficult thing to buy into when you consider the claims of Christianity?
Why do you think God seems so real to some people and so unreal to others?
If someone wanted to talk to you about God how would you like him or her to approach you?
These questions will help you to see and understand how outsiders view Christianity and the Church
Sometimes in our churches, we become oblivious to the kind of “scent’ we are giving off.
If you want to better understand how you are being perceived, the best people to help you are outsiders
Ask them to come to one of your events and then give you feedback one what it was like for them to be in your church
Have a leader take them out for a meal or a coffee afterward, so they can share their observations and feelings
Get to know those whom you are working to attract and win!
Principle #5: Get lost in order to get found
Don’t try and control where the conversation is going – just let it flow
Get lost in the conversation and simply listen and absorb
A recent conversation:
Several of us sitting in Tim Horton’s coffee shop in Winkler, Manitoba… just talking about a service we had just come from … it was late at night
Others joined us – people we did not know –  because they heard us sharing and laughing
Stories began to flow:
Stories of how they had been wounded by the church in one way or another
One had been told that her miscarriage was a result of sin in her life
One use to teach Sunday school but left because of the constant
appeals for more and more money
People kept joining us and sharing their true hearts with us
I didn’t know where the conversation was going
I was not trying to lead it
It soon took on a life of its own
So I got lost in the stories being told – only to find myself
Understanding where they were coming from
Feeling some of the pain they were feeling
Agreeing with some of the things they were sharing
Seeing why they left and understanding the pain
Also, finding a way to address some of the pain …
Principle #6: Always validate before moving on
Always verify what you thought you heard by reflecting back the thoughts and feelings of the people you are listening to
Use phrases like:
So, if I am hearing you right…
Let me make sure I’m tracking with you, you are…
You are saying that you feel … because …. Is that right?
What you really want me to grasp is that…
So, what ticks you off the most is…
So, what excites you the most is…
Sop, the really big thing for you is…
Principle #7: When you really listen (Spirit-led listening), be prepared for people to share their deepest hearts
If you want people to connect and share with you you must make it abundantly clear that you are truly interested in what they think and feel
When you do, most people will naturally reciprocate with equal curiosity and opennesses towards us
This makes for a great dialogue and will eventually lead naturally to discussions about spiritual things
If people do not sense that we genuinely care about what is important to them, they will certainly be reluctant to open up to us about things that are important
When people open up you need to give them your undivided attention and listen intently
Your body language speaks loudly in any and every conversation
As you listen to them with your physical ears you should also be listening for the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit with your spiritual ears
Remember, He is working in their lives convicting them and drawing them to the cross
(John 16:8-11)
Principle #8: When you are invited to speak, be brief
Divine dialogue happens when we continue to keep the spotlight on others and what they want to talk about
Meaningful spiritual conversations happen when we accept where people are in relationship to God, even if wee would like them to be somewhere else
Everyone is at a different spot on their spiritual journey
You are listening your way into a spiritual conversation
When it reaches “spiritual” keep it short and keep it simple
If they want to know more or have a more complete explanation – wait for them to ask you
Do not drown them and the conversation in overload of information
Principle #9: One way to tell if you have truly connected heart-to-heart is if you are welcome back
And you will be if you have listened and embraced the conversation and the hearts of the people you are speaking to
James 1:19b “be quick to listen and slow to speak…”
Imagine what would happen is all Christians showed up in the culture with fewer words, and with ears eager to listen
I think we would discover what doctors today have known for a long time, thanks to a young French physician named Rene Laennec
In 1816, he fashioned a cylinder from a sheet of paper and used it to examine a patient
He discovered that internal sounds could be isolated and amplified through a tube, making examinations less intrusive and easier to interpret
This discovery paved the way for the modern-day version of the stethoscope
Doctors use this instrument because they have learned that if they listen well, the patient’s body will tell the doctor how to be an instrument of healing
My Point:
If we will listen to those who are in need of spiritual healing – salvation and beyond
If we talk less and listen more – Spirit-led listening
If we take the initiative and listen – both to the people around you and to the Holy Spirit
You will never wonder again how to start a spiritual conversation
Most of them will start themselves….