Thursday, March 8, 2012

Christians Together (with small groups!)

I've been apart of Christians Together, a ministry of many churches working together in Scotland. Recently I got an email from their Editor about small groups and community- here's what I wrote about it: (If you want to find out more and or join Christians Together, just click the link on the left side of the page)


in response to your email about wonder how best to respond to and interact with young people here's a couple of thoughts.

First of all, you have to speak their language. What I mean by this is you need to be able to communicate and understand their thoughts, perspectives and struggles... often the best way to find this out is to seek out where the young people you're trying to reach like to naturally hang out and then just listen for a month or so. Dont do any missions work or evangelizing or anything- just try to honestly listen (with as little internal commentary as possible). I've personally seen and partially experienced time and time again when religious people with an obvious agenda highly awkwardly show up and try to start street conversations with random passerbys. The usual reason most typical young people I've run into have issues with Christianity (if they even know what it is) is because they've either had genuinely bad run-ins with it or they are truly and deeply emotionally scarred from past experiences related to people who profess belief. Think about it, if that sort of exposure was all you ever knew in your vague, seldomly thought of religion, its no wonder so many young people never meet Jesus.

Secondly, to steal a quote from author/speaker Brennan Manning, " The greatest cause of atheism in the world today are Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and then walk out the doors and deny him by their lifestyles. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable." Once, I asked an outspoken non-Christian friend of mine what bothers him most about Christianity and or Christians. The answer is highly thought-provoking. He basically said that when you're talking with someone about their soul (if they even believe they have one), the deepest, most intensely personal part of them, and then proceed to tell them that they are going to Hell because they dont follow your doctrinal creed (all of which they believe is made up anyway), again, its no small wonder why most people shy away. To even talk about someone's soul, not even mentioning where it may or may not be going after death, is a highly sacred, intensely personal thing. Almost as if we ourselves are too comfortable with bandying it about. 

Highly sobering.

Personally, I think its fascinating to consider that Christians really do almost posses their own language, humor, sense of social roles and relations with ourselves and others. For those who grow up never even seeing a Bible or stepping foot inside a church, we must seem like odd human beings. So full of fire and direction, contention, strife, purpose, passion, and on occasion, love. Realty check can give us perspective and insight. American pastor Craig Gross relayed a story in his book, The Gutter, on an outreach he once did with his youth group for the homeless. When they went to a large downtown park notorious for its large homeless population with sack lunches, intending to distribute them, they encountered two people. One was an old woman with no shoes, another a haggard man. When they offered them their lunches, the man snapped at them. "Look at her feet!" he exclaimed, "why would we accept your food when there's at least a dozen soup kitchens in this district alone? Until you can really help her and I, we dont want your food, we dont want your gospel and we wont go to your church." Stunned, one of the youth removed his shoes and gave them to the barefoot homeless woman.

Until we can be Jesus, really be Jesus, to respond to the real needs of people around us, who are we to hand out tracts, flyers or even Bibles? Jesus met people where they were, directly helping people's needs humbly, without any sort of ministry pretense or agenda. It's a sort of honesty and love I've seen so many local churches sorely lacking. This is something we can learn from. This is someone we are called to be like- a real Jesus to our towns and peoples. Listening and helping. Befriending and being changed in the process by. Agenda-less. Purposeful and real. We're supposed to be known by our love, after all.

Anyways, I hope something in there will be useful for you- God bless from Hannibal, Missouri, USA!
Your friend,


Like what you read? Join in with your own insights, stories and art- send them to Through how you've seen God move, we can change people through love. For more, listen to SpeakEasy radio, every Saturday night at 6pm MST on KKIM. Listen live at Thanks and God bless -Ryan

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