LCEF News, Leader to Leader

What Roaches, High Heels, and Unbelievers Have in Common

September 26, 2016 | Posted by Emilie Finke

They’re all a little scary at first, aren’t they? Your first encounter with an armor-clad post-apocalyptic bug might have given your stomach a jolt. Your first steps in stilettos probably didn’t paint you as particularly graceful. And meeting new unbelievers… well, it has the potential to be a combination of stomach-jolting and stiletto tromping. Seriously.

Do you struggle to make friends with people outside the church?

I don’t think it’s something to be embarrassed about or ashamed by. I was well into high school before I didn’t have to completely wrack my brain to come up with even one friend who wasn’t a Christian. I remember in middle school being almost disappointed when yet another friend would come out as a Jesus follower. Et tu, Brute? All I wanted was to have one good non-believing friend to talk about at Sunday School. Is that too much to ask?

It makes sense though. We are drawn to people like us. It’s easy. It’s convenient to develop relationships with the people you already work and worship with at your church. It’s simple to dive into deep, maybe even controversial conversations about our Creator and our First Love with people who also believe God to be their Creator and Love.

And then there’s the pressure. Every time you meet a disconnected person out in the community there’s the cyclical voice in your head, “evangelize, evangelize, evangelize, disciple, disciple, disciple.”

It’s not that we consider people “projects,” no; we know better than that. It’s more this invisible weight – this awareness of possible eternal significance in every word you say, every impression you make – this could impact eternity.

Thoughts go through our heads like, “Act natural,” and, “Invite them to church but, like, in a chill way. Be cool. Just BE COOL,” and, “WHAT IF I SAY SOMETHING WRONG AND FOREVER RUIN THEIR CHANCES OF ETERNAL LIFE WITH JESUS?” You know, normal, low-key thoughts like that.

The weight of eternity can cripple us. It’s what makes some of us feel too uncomfortable to get a drink at a bar and others of us get a few too many in an attempt to seem “normal.” This weight can turn us into awkward, wooden, off-putting people.

I have good news, though, folks: Unbelievers put their pants on one leg at a time, just like you and I. We don’t need to be afraid of them.

Church, let’s take the pressure off. Jesus is not counting on you to singlehandedly bring His children back to Him. He’s already doing the hard work; but He’s inviting you to join Him because Jesus is great and welcoming like that and He really enjoys a good adventure with a good friend.

Bust out the walls of the church. Ditch the convenience of only developing friendships with people who come to you. Deeply imbed yourself in the heartbeat of your city. Go to that weekly trivia night, pick-up game, book club. And then make some friends. Just make some friends. No pressure. No weight.

The Holy Spirit lives in you and is constantly flowing through your words and actions. Trust that. The fact that you’re a part of a local church will inevitably come up. More faith conversations will eventually happen. Be aware of that and respond to those things accordingly. But those things flow from simple, authentic friendship – Jesus is doing the hard stuff. Trust Him.

So:
1. Go outside.
2. Be yourself.
3. Enjoy some people.
4. Keep an eye out for what the Holy Spirit is doing in the midst of your good ole fashioned friendship.
Maybe we’ll get to see some new faces at church and some old friends in heaven as a result.

AUTHOR
Emilie Finke
Emilie Finke is a daughter of Christ with a heart for millennials. She graduated from Concordia University Texas and is currently serving as worship leader, women’s ministry, and social media coordinator at The Point Church in Knoxville, TN. She loves good coffee paired with good music on a long road trip, conversations that get way too personal way too fast, and any well-placed pun. But Jesus is even better than all that. Check out more of her thoughts on all things life and Jesus at meanderingsandramblings.com.