Monday, April 05, 2004

Latest Thoughts

Spiritual Conversations. "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ" -- Romans 10:17

We don't know how to have conversations... I don't know how to have conversations.

I love conversations. I love a good debate. But they never last long. Two good friends (intellectual friends) have ended conversations with me like this: "Anyone who has ever given this any thought would know..." and "You always think you're right don't you?" Where did the conversation go?

I want to talk about politics. I want to talk about doctrine. I want to talk about the nature of people. I want to talk about race issues. I want to talk about men and women. But I don't get a lot of takers.

Paul and Jesus were great at conversations. In Scripture though, we usually only get one side of the conversation, like listening to their side of a telephone conversation.

There seems to be a gate to conversations in the church. There are certain things you don't talk about, especially doctrinal issues and moral issues. Yet they long to be explored.

Joe Lockhart, editor of our church newsletter, has suggested that he and I start writing some dialogue for the newsletter. Joe is great at exploring the edges of about anything you want to talk about, and yet has the ability to hold on to the one thread that holds to the solid truth, then he starts moving back to a much more solid base then he started from. But this only happens in the safety of conversation.

Joe and I have pretty good conversations. I also have pretty good conversations with two of our church leaders -- Michelle and Teresa. We meet for coffee weekly. I'm able to pretty honest with these guys and exploration seems to be a shared value.

We judge people by where they stand on issues. And if we talk too much, we will change our standing with people. I think it is amazing how much we trust or don't trust people by where they stand on a handful of issues. Honest exploration doesn't rank very high on our list. We want them to think like we think. I don't think like too many people. Scary.

I also realize that I'm not the only one is bad at conversation. Conversation takes two. It takes trust. It takes repeated conversations.

Is this where people will come to know Christ? In conversations? That is not the model we currently own. I'm thinking that I am going to start teaching our leaders to have conversations, and not be afraid to let people go where they want to go in the conversation. We have to see where they are before they can make any moves. And honestly, people are only going to move to where they want to go. So we should let them set the pace for the conversation. Then we should become experts at asking questions. Not just questions that we think will manipulate the path of the conversation, but seriously, really good questions, ones that make you think and question what you call "the truth."

The truth can stand on it's own. We don't need to be afraid of tearing it down or distorting it. If we question enough, while engaging in conversation, it will clear itself. That at least has been my limited experience.

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