Cultivating Gospel Conversations
Yesterday at a New Year's party at our neighbor's house I enjoyed catching up with his son-in-law. He's about my age and is a "life-coach" in the city two hours away. He helps people find better ways to live, work, and communicate. I love that! I showed him what I'm doing with a fitness hobby I manage that promotes "healthy living" in our community. He invited me to come visit him to see what he does. I'm eager to talk more with him about life-coaching, fitness, and the gospel.
I'm having more and more of these kinds of salt and light conversations with my neighbors. I look for them, pray for them, and dive into them whenever I have the chance.
I try to listen up and understand all I can (James 1:19) with what's going on in my neighbors' lives. I usually start with how are you? (rather than let me tell you) and go from there. What we say and how we respond in love and genuine interest speaks volumes to our neighbors. We need to learn to "cultivate" the gospel into our conversations.
Gospel presentations that don't lead to genuine conversations in our new languages can be risky and often lead to misunderstandings, especially if we don't know how to listen and respond. We may come away with a false impression of communicating the gospel more than we really have.
We often think we communicating more than we really are.
We need to sustain the integrity of our cross-cultural gospel communication with exactness (clarity, accuracy, and natural expression) and with deep and broad awareness (cultural and interpersonal) so that our message is communicated in love, God's love. Let's not substitute urgency for expediency.
What are those conversational "furrows" that help us plant seeds of the gospel into the rich soil of our neighbors' lives? Consider the amazing value of even seemingly "off-topic" or random conversations that demonstrate our true interest. You'll be surprised how the Lord opens doors to the gospel through them! Let's continue to deepen and broaden our language radius to give our neighbors every opportunity to really hear the gospel!
Here are a few tips for doing this:
Rejoice that you can share the gospel in your new language, if even very simply at first!
Be aware of the limitations and risks of sharing the gospel with limited language ability and cultural awareness. Keep sharing! But keep learning!
Let that need motivate you to grow in language/culture breadth and depth so you can share the gospel better.
Pray for awareness of God-at-work in daily conversations on all topics with neighbors.
Seek godly insight into sharing the gospel in and through all daily walks-of-life.
Practice doing this with trusted language partners who can help you improve and grow in the language.
Don't water down or diminish the message of the gospel as you learn to share it in daily conversations.
Realize that you actually elevate and magnify the beauty of the gospel message when you learn to share it with your neighbors in ways they can truly understand it.
Rigorously consider the accurate, natural, and clear expression of the gospel message through all conversational topics as you pray for your neighbors.
Believe that God is growing gospel seeds you plant in their lives!