Yesterday, I went out for lunch with our church’s administrative assistant and communication coordinator. While not really talking “shop”, we were sitting in our booth at that most Christian of chicken restaurants (otherwise known as “Swiss Chalet”) discussing the importance of ministry to families, and what that should look like. It was relaxed, yet impassioned, discussion.
There was a fellow sitting by himself who arrived after we did; he sat at the booth next to us. When he got up after his meal was finished, he came to our booth, looked at me, and asked, “Where is your church?”
I was a little dumbfounded that he had heard enough of our conversation even to know to ask me about a church. I told him, gave him my card and introduced myself. I told him the time worship begins, and then he said, “You might see me on Sunday.” I said, “That’d be great!” and he carried on with his day.
This experience taught me two lessons. The first is that followers of Jesus should always be aware that their conversations are heard by others, who may be on the verge of considering Christian faith. Despite the fact that many people consider themselves blessed with the gift of criticism, we all need to know that overheard criticism, even when well-intended, only drives people away, leaving them thinking (if they didn’t before) that church people are just a bunch of hypocrites. “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4.6, NIV).
Everything tastes better when seasoned with salt, right? Well, maybe not everybody agrees with that, including my physician. But what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote that was that our conversations should be attractive rather than detractive, that what we say should draw people to the Lord and not push them away.
I wish that everything I said drew people to God, but clearly that conversation seemed encouraging to one man.
The other less the conversation taught me is that constructive, positive talk about building families is attractive to people if for no other reason than the fact that it is so necessary in our culture. If reading the newspaper doesn’t convince you of this, ask a 9-1-1 operator! I learned (as part of our lunchtime chat yesterday) that many calls to 9-1-1 are from parents whose children rule their homes. Families need practical and spiritual support from those who represent the One whose idea families were.
I don’t know what my new acquaintance found interesting about our conversation, but I’m praying for him, and hoping to meet him on Sunday.
St. Paul’s Church in Nobleton is celebrating its 51st anniversary on Sunday, with my friend Andrew Allison from St. Paul’s, Leaskdale sharing with us from God’s Word, and telling us about the exponential growth that his congregation has experienced over the past number of years. I’m looking forward to his inspiring message. Hope you can come to celebrate with us!
God’s best for your weekend.