The Christmas holidays are a time of year when people are often more open spiritually. However, most people will want to know if you are a “safe” person before talking to you about spiritual things. They want to know if they can trust you to respect them and their beliefs rather than judge them. Frankly, in our culture it’s hard to find a place where you can safely talk with people who believe differently.
How can you demonstrate that you are a safe person with those around you who believe differently? Here are some ways:
- Learn about their world; ask questions to understand the other person’s perspective.
- Choose to bond instead of avoiding people. Build relationships, spend time with neighbors or co-workers, love them, listen to them!
- Look for the good in people around you and affirm it.
- Welcome them into your world with open arms. Open your heart, your home, your lifestyle and your friendships to them. Henri Nouwen said, Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where the change can take place.
Once they know you won’t embarrass them or pressure them to agree with you, once they know you care for them, no matter what they believe, they may be willing to talk more about spiritual things.
December To Do List . . .
- Pray! Ask God for one or two Christians who will start a group with you, and then process through How to Start a Q Place with them. Pray for open hearts of those you will invite.
- Talk to some people about the idea of a group for discussions about God. This doesn’t need to be an invitation—just mention that you’re thinking about starting this kind of group and that people will be able to come one time and check it out without any commitment. Ask them, “If you were to come to a group like that, what would be important in order for you to feel at ease?”
- Look for people in church that you don’t know or who may be by themselves. Or ask your pastor to help identify those who are new to the Bible or to Christianity. What if you got to know some of these people during December and offered to start a Q Place group with them in January? Consider this thought from Jerry Root, professor at Wheaton College who is also on staff at the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism:
One of the greatest places to evangelize is in the church. Every Sunday (and especially at Christmas!) people come through the doors who don’t know Jesus. They’ve self-selected to come to church, looking for something.
- Invite neighbors, friends, co-workers, and church newcomers into your home for a one-time, fun, non-threatening Christmas party. This could be a time to learn about them and build trust. This could also be the pre-launch of a Q Place group if they learn you are a safe person to talk to about spiritual things.
One Family's Story
Nancy's family has enjoyed getting to know their neighbors through several different activities at this time of year. They have gone Christmas caroling with neighbors, had Christmas cookie exchange parties, and were able to host a Christmas party like the one suggested above. Here’s how the holiday gathering idea worked for her:
At our Christmas party, we shared Christmas goodies and laughed over icebreaker questions. Then we handed out a printed copy of the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke and facilitated a short discussion about it. Everyone seemed to enjoy the story and the chance to talk openly about what it meant to him or her. In January, we invited the neighbors to come back and meet on a regular basis to discuss more passages of Scripture. Several came and a Q Place group was started!
If you plan to start a Q Place group in January, be sure to mention that at the end of your Christmas gathering. Make it low-key, and tell them you’ll give more specifics closer to when you start the group. After being with you and seeing how fun and safe you are, they may like to try your Q Place group!
As you think about what your new group will do, get familiar with Explore God’s 7 Big Questions videos, which are fantastic discussion starters, especially when people are not yet ready to spend much time in the Bible. And also check out Q Place's Level One Bible discussion guides, which work well for people who are curious but new to the Bible.
Q Place Blog Editor
P.S. If you are thinking of starting a group in January, be sure to read 6 Essentials to Launch Your Q Place Group. And email me at fgoodrich@QPlace.com any time with your questions!