Christians believe something very deeply… we’ve entrusted our lives, careers, money, opportunities, everything over to Jesus. We’re depending on Jesus’ grace to get us through death. These are all serious things!
So it makes it really hard when our non-Christian friends or family poke fun at our faith. When they joke about going to church, or even mention “hell” like its a place they’ll get to party. So, apart from letting it pass most of the time, in the odd times you can address it, what might we say?
- “Just a second… I’d really like you to think about what you said just then.”
- “Hey, I’m not sure you realise how important this is to me personally. Can I explain?”
- “I know you think it’s kinda funny, but I really care what you think about this stuff.”
It may not get somewhere, but it might help them realise that you really do take it seriously… and maybe they should too.
When you start a project or task its easy to get motivated. New things are exciting and carry a sense of momentum. But we don’t just go and do new things… we do things that we believe in… we just find it easier to do the new ones!
So how do you keep plugging away at the project or task when it’s no longer new?
Part of the answer is to re-consider the motivation that made that task exciting in the first place. Ask yourself (or your team), “What were you excited about this project before you got started? What were you hoping it would do?”
The goal or purpose of the project shouldn’t have changed since then. And that means the motivation to reach that goal shouldn’t have changed either.
So dig into the love that sparked the task, and keep working to use that motivation to fuel the task.
No one likes hearing complaints, even when we know they come from a good place and the person complaining is trying to do it for the church’s good… but how many are you prepared for.
I’d like to assume that most godly positive Christians might have cause to suggest or raise a significant issue once ever 12 months. That seems fair, right?
So if you had a church of 55 people… that would be more that one complaint a week. A church of 200 people would be 4 complaints per week.
If these people truly have the church and the kingdom at heart, that’s a lot of listening and understanding and explaining to do.
And that’s why churches need really clear reasons for doing the things they’re doing. It helps when dealing with the always new issues being raised.
When you’re trying to convince someone of something the conversation will start in one of two places; either they know you don’t agree or they don’t know that yet. (Eg salesman know they don’t agree with your budget, but they want you to feel like they are on your side, so they don’t tell you they disagree).
But how do you go about convincing someone when there’s a known, articulated disagreement?
You assume you don’t really understand what they’re saying. You ask them about their point of view, their idea, their world, and so on, until they stop you and start asking questions themselves.
They might even start asking deeper questions about their own ideas.
Often when people ask you for advice or come to us with a problem, it can make you feel important and valuable. However, it’s worth asking “who else have you spoken to?” for several reasons…
- Avoid becoming someone’s only confidant. Are they telling the people they should tell? Are you the only person they are relying on? Is it appropriate?
- Have they already spoken to loads of people? Have they all given the same advice? Are any of those people on your team? Is there a danger of undermining someone else’s hard pastoral work?
- Are they telling only part of the story to you and part of the story to other people?
- Are they just raising the issue because they enjoy the attention you’re giving them? Is crisis resolution the only time you give people attention?
From here until Jesus returns, following Jesus will always look outrageous, extreme and anti-cultural. But even though we know this, we can still feel the pull to make middle-class Christianity a thing.
Middle-class Christianity is faithful to Sundays (as long as it doesn’t clash with family, kids parties or sport), it gives just enough so it doesn’t hurt, and it loves Jesus… if you ask it, Middle-class Christianity will assure you it loves Jesus (even though it would take a gun to the head for them to mention Jesus in public).
But radical Christianity isn’t so acceptable. It speaks about the Jesus it loves, it says “I got something else on” to things the world assumes are important, and it gives as though the world was ending.
But in the end, the world will end. And Jesus will be revealed, and those radical Christians won’t look so radical after all.
As we talk about heaven, we too quickly move to the idea it is for us. While this is somewhat true, it’s not the big idea.
Jesus was raised as the first eternal human – never to die again. He is the sovereign all-powerful king and ruler of life now, and life-eternal. Jesus is the king of “heaven”. It’s his kingdom, his empire.
You can’t be forgiven and saved from judgement and then expect to do your own thing – your dreams – in heaven. You get saved into Jesus’ kingdom. Not into self-rule.
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col 2:13-14)