some observations

jesus on a wallIn the past week, I have run into three conversations with strangers about faith, spirituality, & the way of Jesus. Spending so much of my time on developing a community of faith here in Phoenix, I often have these types of conversations with people I meet. As people ask the obligatory, "So what do you do for a living?" it inevitably launches the conversation deep into spiritual territory. But I have conversations like this once or twice a month and they typically last 3-5 minutes. This week I have had three of them each lasting 30-45 minutes. I haven't done anything different this week – I haven't worn any "I love Jesus, ask me about it" t-shirts or got out the old, "Know Jesus Know Peace, No Jesus No Peace" bumper sticker. I have just run into these interesting (and welcomed) conversations. With each new person I talk to, I learn more about the local perspective on things of faith, on the church, and on Jesus. Here are some themes I am hearing consistently:

  • people are interested in faith, but not actively pursuing it in their lives.
  • in most cases, people see the local church as a necessary piece of human spirituality and if they don't like it for some reason, development of their spiritual life dies with their church involvement.
  • most people don't think about faith outside of religion, but they like the idea when it's presented to them.
  • people aren't anti-Jesus, just anti-church (which for them is the clearest representation of Jesus)
  • a lot of people are deeply (more that I could have imagined) interested and intrigued in the Kingdom way of life.
  • hypocrisy, judgement, lack of acceptance, financial irresponsibility, all talk-no real action, and the politics of the church are all barriers that people mentioned in response to the question, "So why don't you attend church" – interestingly,one person I talked to articulated that the mission of the church these days seemed to be a different one that the mission of Jesus – something I often feel as well.
  • people would follow (or at the very least investigate) the way of Jesus if they had a safe, accepting, relational, community to join in the pursuit with.

I should qualify that the people who I have had these discussions with would be considered non-Christians by a conservative, evangelical crowd (they don't go to church and can't articulate that the death of Jesus of the Cross and his subsequent resurrection are events in which they trust as the necessary substitutionary death for forgiveness of their sins and a redeemed relationship with God). I am assuming that these voices represent the larger voice and perspective of our local culture here in Phoenix. I will continue my research :).

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