Monday, March 9, 2009

Meeting New People

I have been very busy lately, so I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and share on my blog what has been keeping me busy in other parts of my ministry. I am doing a series at one of my churches for Prayer Meeting on how to meet new people and "witness" to them. I have never done this before and I certainly am no expert. 

Two weeks ago was the first part, and here is what I shared with them. It is in outline form, so sorry for the disjointedness. As always, your thoughts are solicited.

Meeting New People (Part 1)

“Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me’ ” (Ministry of Healing, p. 143)


I.                   Preliminary questions to ask yourself:

a.       Does this person have value only if he/she is a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, or does he/she have value for the simple fact that he/she is a child of God?

b.      If this person never became a Seventh-day Adventist, would I still be interested in him/her?

                                                  i.      When you enter into someone’s world and listen to them, you get every bit as much a blessing from them as they do from you

II.                Becoming a “People Person”

a.       Ask a lot of questions!

                                                  i.      As a general rule, people like talking about themselves

                                                ii.      Play a game of 20 questions with them!

1.      Where do you live?

2.      Where did you grow up?

3.      Tell me about your family. . . .

4.      What interests do you have?

5.      Note: Religious/spiritual questions should not be at the top of the list in this exercise

a.       Neither are we going through the rest of the preliminary questions simply so we can finally get to the religious stuff

b.      Religious/spiritual conversations should naturally come up in the course of a conversation, but it is best if the other person initiates that subject.

c.       And, usually, this will only come when the person has confidence in you and trusts you

b.      And then listen to the answers

                                                  i.      There is a reason we all have one mouth and two ears

1.      We are supposed to listen twice as much as we talk

                                                ii.      When we take a genuine interest in a person’s life, we are entering into that person’s world

1.      This indicates to the person that he/she has value to us—as well as to God

2.      Nobody is interested in being lectured on anything. Let them carry most of the conversation

                                              iii.      We are not necessarily trying to listen to their answers simply so we can force a religious “follow-up” question on them

1.      This doesn’t preclude a person from prayerfully looking for opportunities to talk about spirituality

c.       Initial contact with a person should be “agenda-less”

                                                  i.      You are not setting them up to invite them to church

                                                ii.      You are not trying to secure a Bible Study

                                              iii.      You are simply interested in who that person is as a person

1.      Recent experiences

a.       Nancy/Tim

b.      John


Morning's Minion said...

Good agenda, I think. We have too long behaved like an avid bird about to pounce on the first available worm!

Anonymous said...

Good approach. Your penetrating question is a great one--would we have an interest in the person if she/he never became an SDA?

Shawn Brace said...

Thanks, folks. I especially like the imagery you use, Morning's Minion!

Morning's Minion said...

I "married into the church" at a time [mid 60's] when the emphasis seemed to be on pummeling any captive audience with "the truth". In the church pews each Sabbath were paper forms to be filled out checking off the number of "contacts" made, Bible studies given, "literature" handed out. Stories of perseverance in this type of witness [regardless of rejection or disinterest on the part of the hearer]were the heroic example. I cringed then and still do, at this sort of tactic, however well meant. Perhaps at that point we were not as aware that others might have boundaries which we should respect!
As a denomination I think we are seeing that the old methods are not effective when the goal is merely to press our interpretation of truth or to increase our membership. Your thoughtful examination of better ways to connect is long overdue. Change is difficult. The mission hasn't altered, but our perception of it and the embracing of gentler tactics have been slow to change. We need to become builders of bridges that help to span differences of tradition and belief.