I have an "old" friend…no, not in chronological years but in a "different" frame of reference. My friend Beau is someone I've known since our paths crossed at Azusa Pacific University. He also joined our staff for the Youth Leadership Institute for a summer. What a great guy! Anyway, we haven't talked in a while and I haven't seen him in years…but Beau is still "alive and well" thinking through Kingdom living and lifestyle in his own context. I read his blog post this week and thought of YOU (and me)! I thought this was incredibly profound. As we say in our faith community, it is better to "LIVE YOUR FAITH and SHARE YOUR LIFE" than it is to "LIVE YOUR LIFE and SHARE YOUR FAITH." If you think about those two phrases, there is a big difference. Another old friend of mine used to sessentially say the same thing – "people don't care what you know until they know that you care." WE don't have to earn a hearing…essentially we need to listen and enter other people's lives bearing the incarnate Word, shining the Light of the world…and in most cases, sharing the Gospel (but without words). Here's Beau's post – thanks bud!
Stop sharing your faith (for now)
"A few weeks ago I gave a charge to the college guys in my Bible study: stop sharing your faith.
Take two weeks and don’t talk about Jesus, don’t offer Biblical insight, don’t answer the
question, don’t tell your story. Instead – just listen. Listen to what questions your friends are
asking, listen to their stories. Don’t think about your response, just absorb what they are telling
I teach this class on college student spiritual development. Parker Palmer says that we really
learn about our calling when we’re willing to dive in to the dark and deep places within us. I
just didn’t think it was practical to talk about the spiritual journey’s of students-out-there if we
weren’t in tune with the stories of the students-in-here. So we broke into small groups and
shared our spiritual autobiographies.
For two hours I listened to the broken, winding, and beautiful stories of skeptics, Jews,
agnostics, believers, and I-don’t-knows. People said things out loud for the first time. They
talked about pain, family, and what’s next. In a way I can’t explain, I saw God more clearly in
their stories than in the half-focused broken-record testimony of Christians at churches new
member classes. It was probably the best two hour class I had ever been in, and more
enlightening than any sermon I’ve ever heard on evangelism. There are a hundred things I
learned. But what I took away most was a feeling that I wish every Christian I know could have
heard what I heard.
Of course, they can’t. One of the reasons it worked is that our class has built up trust. We
intentionally created space to be able to listen. Most Christians will never get to hear those
stories. We are too busy trying to talk. We don’t know how to create safe space. Maybe we
aren’t interested. We’re so eager to share Jesus what we don’t honor or listen to the people he
I was wrestling through how to share my own story and so I asked my friend Nick to help me.
As the instructor, I know my voice carries more weight. I was so fearful of someone putting up
a wall because of what I would say. Would it be too polished or preachy? Would it be
authentic? Though I obviously wanted to be able to share, I didn’t want to trick them into
having to hear the gospel. Nick said, “what’s your motive?” I knew immediately – I just wanted
to be real.
This is a mystery. Opening the door to others sharing started with me listening. On the other
side of that door, they asked me to share my story, that is, the story of how God came close to
And so, dear reader, I challenge you to give no answers, share no truth, tell no stories, read no
verses, and do no preaching. For now. If you just listen, you’ll soon find people are begging
you to talk again."