Monday, November 28, 2011

Stretch Toward People

(Cross-posted on YouVersion)


Stretch Toward People
Message #5 of "s t r e t c h"
Pastor Jeff MacLurg, Our Savior's Baptist Church; Federal Way, Wash.; www.oursaviorsbaptist.org
Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011 (My notes from the 9 and 10:45 am services, I pray it will be helpful to you. I would appreciate prayers for me, our church and our pastor.)

--- The 'Stretch to Win' Mindset (1 Corinthians 9:19-23) ---

This is who I am: a winner of people to Christ
This is what I do: win people to Christ
Really? Uh, no.
Why not?
Fear - fear of looking dumb, of not having the answer to a tough question, the fear of conversation itself.

40% of teenagers consider themselves as shy. The number who self-identify as shy goes up as you survey older and older groups of people.

But it's actually just a lack of practice.


--- How to Converse: B.A.L.K.S. ---

* Be INTERESTED

Be interested in what other people are interested in. You need to care about others, want to know what's interesting to them. It's not a need to be charismatic, it's simply appearing interested.

* Ask OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS.

The secret to a good conversation is opening open-ended questions and letting the other person do all the talking. Don't ask questions that someone can answer easily.

Not, "What's your name."
But, "Tell me about yourself."

Not, "Where do you work?"
But, "What do you do?"

Not, "I like your jacket."
But, "Where did you get that cool jacket."

* Listen and FOLLOW-UP ON THEIR COMMENTS

Listen and stay engaged. Don't think about what you're going to say next. Conversation is like a dance. Give and take, following the leading.

* Kill your negative INTERNAL THOUGHTS

Shy people spend too much time worrying about the conversation itself. Actually, everyone has those thoughts. So stop thinking about yourself. Focus on what they're talking about. The fact is, they are talking to you. So already most of your fears are unfounded. Instead, devote the brain-power to staying engaged.

* SMILE

It will help the conversation go more smoothly and it will give you a positive internal thing to think about if necessary.

If you feel clumsy in conversation, you need more practice.

--- What to converse: S.P.E.A.K. ---

* STORY - what is their story? How did they get here? What's happened today? How is their year going?

* PASSION - what are their passions?

* ENCOURAGEMENT - have you ever thought of? That's cool how you're good at... That sounds like an exciting passion...

* ASSISTANCE - how might I be able to help you?

* KNOWLEDGE - who or what do they know that you need to know? What/who do you have in common? What can you learn about an area you know nothing about?

--- A Spiritual Conversation (John 4:4-42) ---

Half of people polled by Gallup pollsters say they intend to go back to church "someday.". One in five say all they're waiting for is someone to talk to them about spiritual matters. So how can we have more conversations about people?

1. Jesus initiates the conversation (v7)

You may need to start the conversation. He doesn't immediately go in for the sale. Even this is abbreviated - it may take you weeks or months of regular contact before you can get to the heart of the matter - if that's your whole reason for having the conversation then you're not building a relationship and that's the whole point of God - a relationship of love, not a system of rules and requirements.

2. He crosses some boundaries set by social custom (v9)

Reach out, even if you are uncomfortable. That, too, can speak volumes and make someone more open. Most people in today's culture feel lonely and crave more contact with others. Real, human, face-to-face interactions, not status updates, comments and likes and +1s, but real communication - the kind where they're not on the phone, not talking to someone else, but looking at them focusing their attention right in them.

3. He says things that intrigue her (v10)

4. His comments stir curiosity and invites her into a deeper conversation (v11-12)

5. He responds to her openness and moves closer to the heart of the issue (v16-18)

6. He invites her to change (v21)

7. He refuses to be drawn into religious talk about competing religious perspectives (v21-24)

--- To Engage in more Spiritual Conversations ---

How many times have you had a conversation like this last week? Last week?

Evangelism has changed. It's no longer a monologue. Barna suggests 62% of people consider themselves "deeply spiritual" so will be open to "spiritual" conversations.

How to Engage in Spiritual Conversations: Creating and Sustaining them Without Being a Jerk
Gary Rohrmayer

1. Make it a PRIORITY - if you don't make room for it in your day, then it definitely won't happen. Those who have conversations about Jesus generally plan to. Go with the intent to be available.

2. Pray for OPPORTUNITIES - God moves in response to our prayers. Ask the Holy Spirit for an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus.

3. Get out and into your COMMUNITY - we are Christians are so isolated that we might not often come into meaningful contact with non-Christians. Do stuff in your community so you have a chance to grow to know people.

4. Establish ROUTINE and cultivate RELATIONSHIPS.

Grocery store clerks, baristas, bank tellers. When they know your name or you know theirs, then you're on your way. This is about cultivation, not confrontation. Wait for them to open up. You may just be the "Christian" they know. And it might not mean anything today, but everyone at some point in their life will find themselves in a situation where they're searching, hurting, crying out, struggling and you are a consistent person in their life who they might turn to.

5. Look for what GOD IS DOING in people's lives.

Both negative and positive. At special seasons, they are open.

6. Be willing to take A RISK.

It's often at a time when you don't have time, or when you're intimidated by the person you're talking to or distracted by something going on in your life.

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
-- Wayne Gretzky

7. Learn to ask good questions (not as a cheat sheet in your purse/wallet but as examples of the kinds questions you can use.)
- Is religion or God important to you?
-- In what ways?
-- If not, is there any particular reason why not?
- Do not give much thought to God and spiritual things?
- Do you feel close or far away from God?
- What do you imagine God is like?
- Can you point to things that God has done for you?
- Have you ever been mad or upset with God?
- Do you think God has a plan for each person's life?
- Is prayer a meaningful part of your life?
- Tell me about your church background.
- Which teachings of your church resonate the most with you?
- Has being ill made any difference in your thinking or feeling about God or your religious faith?
- Do you trust God with your future?

8. Be interested in their STORIES.

9. Get permission to GO DEEPER

10. Be GENUINE

People smell a fake miles away. Don't use words you don't normally use in conversation. Don't use King James in front of someone who isn't familiar with that language.

--- The Choice We Make ---

"If I haven't had a chance to talk to someone about Jesus, then I've lost a day." -- (attribution?)

This week:

- Every morning ask the Holy Spirit to open up a conversation about Jesus with someone
- Take the risk and talk with them
- Email Pastor Jeff a short note when God answers your prayer
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