One of the things I love about interacting with Christians online is that the denominational and other boundaries (race, class, culture) that might normally come into play if we were meeting face to face are mostly invisible online. Laura wrote about this on Big Bible last year. We can engage with one another almost ‘without prejudice’ and I think this is one of the great gifts the internet has given to the Church. I’ve made friends online in the last two years with Christians of every ‘flavour’ and also with others who wouldn’t identify as Christian but who are on the same spiritual journey. It’s only after getting to know people a bit better that I’ve discovered their denominational preferences or political views.
Last year I read an excellent interview with Justin Lee on the Rachel Held Evans blog and one thing he said really struck me:
I think we Christians should be more in the habit of asking the people we encounter in our lives: “Tell me your story.”
Why was the woman at the well so impressed with Jesus? It was because he knew her story. That alone made her eager to listen to him and bring others to do the same.
Our God is a personal God, and as the Body of Christ, we have an obligation to represent God by taking an interest in people’s lives and stories.
How do we ensure that we don’t look at the speck in other people’s eyes instead of realising we have a plank in our own? Ask people their story.
So much traditional-style evangelism seems to focus on ‘I’ve got something to tell you’ or ‘I want you to come to my church’. I am convinced, however, that we would be able to connect with people far better if we asked ‘what story have you got to tell me?’ or ‘can I come to your house for tea?’
Watching the Olympics these last two weeks there have been hundreds of inspirational stories. It’s interesting, isn’t it, that when hearing the back story of some of the athletes, one’s respect for them can change? They might have come 8th but their story shows how far they’ve come.
It’s all too easy for us to make snap judgements about each other. I’m glad this is harder online!
So next time you’re speaking to someone, why not ask them to share a bit of their story? Who knows where it will take you?