Have you ever accidently locked yourself out of your own house? If you haven’t hidden a key somewhere or can’t remember where you hid a key, you have to check all your doors and windows to see if you inadvertently left one unlocked. As you search you hope that your neighbors recognize that it is you attempting to break into your own house and don’t call the police.
Initiating a conversation is trying to find a place to “break in” to a relationship. We pry the perimeter of our observations of another person, trying to find a place that is unlocked so we can have a conversation. Church planter Aaron Proffitt teaches the concept of “Rocking Philippians 2:3 & 4” which means when you meet someone you intentionally “rock” the conversation to be about the person you are meeting. You consider the other person more important than you and keep the focus of the conversation on them.
Once rapport is established, an invitation to community may follow. The person you meet may not be interested in your faith, but they wouldn’t mind having coffee with you sometime. In Tim Sander‘s, Love is the Killer App, Tim describes creating experiences for others as becoming a “bottomless cup of coffee”. This word picture portrays an attractive availability for others who grow to trust us as a result of our practical care for them. Disciple-making requires a warm, stimulating “cup of coffee” experience. As a Christ follower, you sincerely care about others and want to include them in a community that can be hopeful and supportive of their potential spiritual growth.
At some point, the people you have been in conversation with may want to join you in Sunday School or a small group Bible study. Once in community, conversion or life transformation can take place. What better place for a person to discover their need for the life changing work of Jesus Christ than with others who have previously made this discovery?
“Americans give a tremendous amount of credit to anyone who can name a pain that they’ve been experiencing but have been unable to locate,” says Michael Lerner. Our name for the pain Lerner is describing is the need to make Jesus Lord of one’s life. Lerner continues, “People are attracted by and motivated to groups by the experience of community, caring for others, and the group’s ability to recognize and address the deep distortions in life that are caused by a societal ethos of materialism and selfishness.” Christ followers initiate conversations and care enough to create communities (Sunday School classes and small group Bible studies) where conversion can happen.