Coercion, Coffee, Conversation.


I saw a guy with his Bible open at Starbucks teaching theology to another guy. He was unloading all kinds of information about creation and moral laws and prophecies and pneumatology and atonement, and it was all very good and knowledgeable and I applaud him for that — but I guess the one thing I would’ve done differently is just ask questions. “What’s always bothered you about Christianity? How’s your church experience been? How’s everything going with you? Do you want me to pray for anything?”

I don’t mean to diminish this guy and it’s actually really hard to do what he was doing. He’s much braver than me. I also know we don’t have to pit theology against fellowship; we can do both. I just wonder how many times I tried teaching someone all my impressive information without listening first. I wonder how long I let myself get into lecture mode without really caring about my fellow human being who didn’t need extra theology, but needed the theology to be me, by his side.

— J.S.


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17 thoughts on “Coercion, Coffee, Conversation.

  1. I agree with you. I picture the listener sitting with glazed eyes, nodding occasionally, and saying uh huh, just waiting to escape this lecture. It does sound like the speaker was showing off his knowledge rather than trying to interactively share the message. I doubt he won over a heart with this approach.

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    1. Yes, again I don’t mean to demonize the person who was sharing: it’s such a daunting task and it took a lot of bravery on his part to be willing to evangelize. I just wish he had gone the extra mile to listen and to sculpt a friendship.

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  2. I love this! Some friends and I were just talking about this the other day. Mos of us have grown up in church- we are in our mid/late twenties..and some even are on staff at our church. However we were arguing and debating about how to “reach people” (theology vs just…talking to them). I think its sad that we are not taught the “how tos” in church. How to practically love people. How to be comfortable in theology. But again, how to really love people.

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    1. It can be a tough thing to balance. I totally believe that theology is crucial and essential. But as a pastor once said, “Knowledge is essential, but not sufficient.” Often our best theology is presence of engagement.

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  3. It has taken me awhile to learn how to get out of the way so God can help others thru me! I have come to the conclusion we are fixers by nature, His Nature (created in His image) but I kept trying to fix (in my broken nature) rather than let God give them a boost. It still takes alot of reminding for me! BTW the person you saw isn’t braver, his gift is different, neither one is less than, just different. Shine On! Laurie

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    1. Thanks Laurie! I feel it takes a lot of courage to do what he did, to be so brazen and bold about his faith. It’s not easy to just open up a Bible in front of someone and expound upon it. I just wish it had been done with sensitivity and pacing.

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  4. I think many people underestimate the human need to be part of a warm, caring community. Christians say that they are surrounded by the love of God, but sometimes even they don’t feel it or show it. The love is always there. The heart felt warmth is always there. Love permeates the universe. The human challenge is to find the thoughts, words and the ways to feel that love and to open others to the awareness of Love’s presence. Theology, even sacred texts, may contain wisdom but are hollow shells unless the love of God, the Breath of the Spirit is blowing through them.

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    1. Right on. Balancing theology with our love is a tough thing, and no formula could possibly encapsulate it. It mostly happens by our overflow of loving Jesus, and many Christians are not quite “satisfied” enough in Christ to share him. I don’t mean to shame them at all, since it’s tough to get there, but formulas won’t get us there either.

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