Let’s face it. Since you were young, you’ve been told “go and make disciples…” And by “young,” I mean from when you decided you love Jesus and you want to know His voice. But how do you do that? How can you talk about your faith in a predominantly post-Christian culture (such as Las Vegas)? I’m no expert, but ever since leaving my job at Canyon Ridge, I’ve found every day is full of more and more challenges where I am hard pressed to lean more and more into Him. Well, we all know what happens when you spend lots of time with someone – you start acting like them. And you start talking about them.
1. Share your passion.
Is it lights? My brother Dan landed in Vegas a week before my wife and I. My earliest memories were of him talking circles ’round my ole southern head about gels and CRI’s or something to that effect. He was full of energy, he was excited to be in a new town, and he had no reservations about sharing his passion. Zero in on your passion, then make this bold prayer a daily (if not hourly – still working on that) habit: use me Lord. Use the gifts and passions You’ve given me to bring glory to Your name.
Passion is contagious. Share it, and you will be amazed at what conversations open up. John Maxwell says something to the effect of “you were boring down there, you can bore us up here.” Point is, don’t be a bore. I’m learning too. Mark Gungor’s test said I have zero fun and my wife has all the fun. I think it’s rigged. For me, everything God is sharing with me and challenging me with in starting this ministry is exciting. I’ve got lots to share. BUT… remember, we should be slow to speak, slow to anger, and quick to listen as well. Start the conversation, but don’t hog it.
2. Look for the people right in front of you.
Gate guards. Folks at the front desk of your gym, spa, or lobby. The guy at the concession stand. Strike up conversations! If they’re already there, get to know them. Move beyond superficial chit chat and really start to care about them. We’re called to go. I often forget that part, the “go” part, and I’m learning daily that the “showing up” part is crucial. It’s a part of “go.” Well guess what? If you’re already passing by that guy at the gate every day to and from your commute, stop and ask what’s new in their life. Challenge them. They’re a part of your life; it doesn’t matter if it’s 2 minutes a day or 8 hours a day. They’re in your life. Be strong and courageous and ask hard questions. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve hit up the folks at my gym or the bankers or the check-out ladies about “hope,” “encouraging someone who wants to quit a porn addiction,” or writing down their personal goals. When you build into people, they’ll start listening because they will care about you too.
3. Ask what they think of when they hear the word hope.
Sooner or later, you’ll find a gag answer. Mine’s from a banker: “Starbucks.” I asked a banker what he thought of when he saw or heard the word “hope,” and he said “Starbucks.” I remind folks of this story every time they look at me like a deer in the headlights. They ALWAYS laugh, and it reminds them we’re human, and that it’s okay to lighten the mood. When a stranger asks you about “hope,” trust me, your defenses go up. Step in the gap, and share a funny moment, then share with them what your hope is – it hasn’t always opened up deeper dialogues, but sometimes, it does, and it’s amazing what you’ll hear when you just create that margin in your life to listen. We all have a story to share. We all are searching for hope. My hope’s not in temporary things. Nick Vujicic said it really well – when you place your hope in temporary things, your hope is temporary. I love sharing that with folks.
At this point, you can thank them for their feedback. Tell them what you believe. “God doesn’t make junk, and He made me.” I borrow that from my brother Jimmy so often now, and you know what? I haven’t been thrown out, stomped on, or ridiculed. Will it happen? I’m sure it will. The message of hope is foolishness to some. But I’m convinced that God’s attempts at our heartstrings are far superior and way stronger than anything the ole devil does to try to separate us from the love and the validation that God has for us.
Be strong and courageous and go.