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Not Beyond Reach - Building Trust and Friendships, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
June 13, 2024 6:00 am

Not Beyond Reach - Building Trust and Friendships, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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June 13, 2024 6:00 am

As faithful followers of Jesus, we're to be both salt and light in this society. But what does that look like in the midst of all the hostility and discourse going on right now? In this program, our guest teacher Aaron Pierce has the answer – as he continues his series, Not Beyond Reach. Discover how to be both holy and relevant when talking to people who would never walk into a church.

Main Points

Tribalism:

  • Us versus Them
  • Tribalism is a toxic trait of modern-day culture
  • Tribalism existed during Jesus’ day (example: Jews and Samaritans)
  • Jesus defied tribalism in a radical, counter-cultural way - John 4
  • Jesus offended the religious people because He spent so much time with sinners - Luke 15:1-2 

The power of friendship:

  • Friendship humanizes “them”
  • Friendship allows you to demonstrate the Gospel in actions. - Philippians 2:3-4
  • Friendship helps you really understand their perspective and communicate the Gospel effectively.
  • Friendship allows you to earn the trust to challenge their views and speak truth.

Relevance versus holiness:

  • Be distinct and clear that you are a Jesus follower… but not obnoxious or a “Jesus robot”
  • Don’t be offended that non-Christians act like non-Christians (language, lifestyle, philosophy, etc.)
  • The goal is not to “flaunt” your moral superiority, but the goal is that we allow them to see our supernatural hope, love, joy, and peace.

Adopt a missionary mindset:

  • Start by actively pursuing people in your “Oikos,” or sphere of influence.
  • Expand your “Oikos” by being relationally present in secular places.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to a “person of peace” and give you supernatural favor.

Principles to remember when engaging in secular places:

  1. Relax, be yourself, and have fun
  2. Harness the incredible power of asking questions and listening
  3. Find common ground and genuine ways to affirm them.
Broadcast Resource Additional Resource Mentions
  • Dale Carnegie - "How to Win Friends and Influence People"
About Chip Ingram

Chip Ingram’s passion is helping Christians really live like Christians. As a pastor, author, and teacher for more than three decades, Chip has helped believers around the world move from spiritual spectators to healthy, authentic disciples of Jesus by living out God’s truth in their lives and relationships in transformational ways.

About Living on the Edge

Living on the Edge exists to help Christians live like Christians. Established in 1995 as the radio ministry of pastor and author Chip Ingram, God has since grown it into a global discipleship ministry. Living on the Edge provides Biblical teaching and discipleship resources that challenge and equip spiritually hungry Christians all over the world to become mature disciples of Jesus.

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If you've been a Christian for a long time, you're very familiar with our call to be salt and light in this world.

But what does that look like in our current climate? How do we connect and share God's love in such a hostile environment? Well, it begins with one thing that I think we've overlooked.

Stay with me. Today, we're picking up where we left off last time in our series, Not Beyond Reach, taught by our guest teacher, Aaron Pierce. In this program, he continues walking through a process of engaging young people who would never walk into a church.

And a little hint, it starts with genuine relationship. So settle in as we join Aaron for the second half of his talk, Building Trust and Friendships. He begins by talking about a critical pressure point Christians must understand when we connect with people in the secular world.

Let's dive in. Holiness and relevance is an interesting concept because they can feel like tensions or like they're actually on opposite sides of two spectrums. Because what relevance is about is it's about being with people and being connected to people and knowing people and understanding how they see the world and to be able to communicate in an effective way. Whereas holiness is about being set apart. It's about being different and distinct.

And so what happens is you can actually err on either side. So you can be completely quote unquote relevant to the point where you look exactly like the world. And you essentially adopt the world's lifestyle and morals and theology in order to fit in and to connect. The other spectrum is that we are so quote unquote holy that we isolate ourselves from the world. That we're completely disconnected. That we do everything separate. Separate Christian schools, Christian entertainment, Christian everything so that we have no impact and no influence on the world. As followers of Jesus, we are called to go into the world and to transform it. And that means that we have to be distinct. We don't compromise morally or theologically, but we also don't hide from the world either.

So how do we do this well? So the first thing is, again, is we want to be when we're developing these relationships, these friendships, we want to be distinct. We want to be clear that we're a follower of Jesus. We don't want to hide the fact that we are a follower of Jesus. In fact, if following Jesus is core to who you are, it should come out naturally.

It should be part of the flow of your conversation. So we want to be distinct and clear, but we don't want to be obnoxious or a Jesus robot where we can't like, you know, we don't see the social cues that are going on and we're just like Jesus, you know, like we want to be able to connect with people naturally and be clear that we are followers of Jesus. The second thing that's really important in this approach is that we cannot be offended that non-Christians act like non-Christians. So many times Christians are so precious and so like easily offended when someone acts a little rough or maybe makes a comment politically that you don't agree with and it's like, whoa, and you freak out. And we need to be able to a little more relaxed that we can, that we're not going to freak out when someone acts like a non-Christian because that is what they are. Right?

So give you an example. I grew up in the Netherlands and I grew up with a friend that my brother and I both had to group in the same neighborhood. We had a great friendship. And then when we got older, we left, we left the Netherlands. And then years later, I came back to Amsterdam and I thought, I'm going to look up my friend. And so I went to his house, knocked on his door and it turns out they were having a party and they're like, yeah, yeah, he's upstairs, go upstairs. So I went upstairs, whole group, and this is Amsterdam, mind you, there's a whole group of people and they're all smoking joints and like, come on, sit down. And I could have been like, whoa, no way, get away from me.

And instead I was like, okay, fine. Sat down, the hand of the joint, I handed it off to the next person and just began to have a conversation with these people because I'm not going to be tainted or, you know, like I can hang out with non-Christian people and not be offended that they act like non-Christians. Right? Like, so we can be a little not so precious about that. The next point is that the goal, and this is critical, the goal is not to flaunt our moral superiority, like the fact that we swear a little less or the fact that we don't, you know, we don't get drunk and the goal is not to flaunt that. The goal is that we actually allow them to see our supernatural hope, love, joy, and peace. So what I mean by that is what people want to see is how is it that you are joyful in suffering?

Right? How is it that you just found out that you have cancer, but you have peace? How does that make sense? How is it that you have hope when everything around you is falling apart? How is it that you are able to love the unlovable, that you are able to forgive someone that hurt you? How is it that you are able to have hope, love, joy, and peace? And the reason is because it's not natural.

It's a supernatural thing the Holy Spirit has done in you. That is what you want people, the distinction that you want people to see. I'm not suggesting that we don't worry about our morals. I'm just saying that is not what's going to attract someone. They want to see something supernatural, and the supernatural is the fruit of the Spirit, especially when they see how you handle hard things, how you handle suffering. Because then what you get is you get that classic apologetic verse, which is 1 Peter 3.15, which says, Always prepare to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have, but do this with gentleness and respect. They're not asking you to give the reason that you swear less, or the reason that you're not drinking.

That's not what they're asking. Where does the hope come from? And so I think this is a critical distinction that we need to make as we engage secular people. So we want people to see those supernatural things of hope, joy, love, and peace in our lives.

All right. So those are kind of the basic principles. Now, how do we actually get friendships?

Like, how do we actually do this? So the idea is here is we want to adopt a missionary mindset. And so what does that mean? That means that we want to be intentional about a lifestyle that is going to put us in places and situations where we're going to be able to interact with and ultimately develop friendships with secular people.

It means that it doesn't just happen organically. Like a missionary is not a organic, Oh, look at this. I'm in Egypt now. No, I decided to go to Egypt to pursue people in Egypt that don't know Jesus. That is the mindset that we need to have right here. The approach is we need to be missionaries to our people in our cities. And so the idea is we adopt in a missionary mindset an intentional lifestyle. And again, we go back to the fact that that starts in a broken heart, counting the costs, and now we intentionally engage with people.

So how do we do that? Well, first thing you do is start by actively pursuing people in your oikos, which is a Greek word for sphere of influence. So who's already in your sphere of influence, whether that's obviously family, coworkers, neighbors. There are people already around you that there's a difference between like knowing someone or seeing someone at an event or Thanksgiving and pursuing them for a deeper relationship. And there are people right now in your world that if you ask the Lord, God, who do you want me to pursue?

Who do you want me to pursue for a deeper relationship? And sometimes in your own family, that means that I'm going to pursue people where I have a broken relationship. And the goal in this case is not necessarily to preach the gospel. Ultimately, we want that. But the goal is to build and mend a relationship, right?

To start there. Or maybe there's people that you're working with, worked with for years, but you haven't pursued a relationship with them beyond your work. And there's incredible, one of the greatest mission fields that we have today is our work. Where we get to interact with secular people and you don't have to build a relationship with everyone, but maybe two or three people. Where you pursue them and you develop a relationship outside of the work context where you can begin to have open, personal, and ultimately spiritual conversations.

But who are those people? And this is something that you need to take to the Lord, right? Because again, we have a limited capacity to develop relationships. And we need to say, God, who is it in my sphere of influence that you want me to pursue intentionally for a deeper relationship? And ultimately we're talking about people today who would not walk into a church. Second thing when it comes to the missionary mindset is we should expand our oikos because the reality is in our culture, our oikos, our sphere of influence is getting smaller and smaller. Even our neighborhoods we don't engage with like we used to. You know, working from home has made our work influence smaller and smaller, right?

Families are more separated than ever before. So in fact, a lot of times our natural sphere of influence is pretty small. And so we need to expand that by being relationally present in secular places. Again, this is that missionary mindset.

And so the idea is what can we do? Well, go to places like hobbies where people like to do things together. Remember, secular people are looking for belonging and community.

And if they're not finding it in the church, they're finding it in other places. And so these are great places where you can not just organically, because I like sports, because I want to develop relationships. Because I want to connect with people.

Where are the places that I could go? Hobbies that I can be part of where I can develop relationships with secular people that wouldn't walk into a church. The other are causes. Causes are actually awesome ways to connect, because causes, and we'll talk about this later when we talk about politics, but causes inherently suggest that people want to be part of something bigger than themselves. And that they believe the world is not as it ought to be, and they want to make it better. I mean, those are biblical truths that we can actually connect with someone on, even if they don't follow Jesus. So finding causes, whether it's local politics, social causes, neighborhood groups, whatever. Causes that you can connect into to develop these relationships with secular people. Chip here, and you're listening to our series Not Beyond Reach, taught by my friend Aaron Pierce. Before we get back to him, I want you to know that listeners like you help us support pastors globally, develop discipleship resources, and spiritually engage the next generation. I want to invite you to join us today by going to LivingOnTheEdge.org with a gift that can really make a difference.

Now, back to Aaron. And then lastly, it's places or events. Right? So it's public places where people hang out, parks, bars, gyms. Maybe it's events like festivals where you can go and you can develop authentic relationships. Again, the big paradigm shift here is this doesn't just happen organically.

Right? This is God saying to you, I want you to be a missionary in your city. And part of being a good missionary is you go where the people are in order to develop authentic relationships.

And you go there and you develop real relationships with them. Now, some key wisdom, especially when you're going to places that are either kind of spiritually dark, or there's maybe some issues like if there's alcohol there and you've got a history with alcohol abuse, the key here is there needs to be wisdom in going. You need to be clear about your motivation, why you're going, and who's doing the influencing. And the other key thing about this is generally you don't want to do this alone. One of the things, my big challenge in this is that this should not be an individual sport.

This should be a team sport. What's cool about doing this with a group of people is that they actually, first of all, we're gifted differently. We bring different strengths and giftings to the group, but also there are moments when I'm weak or when I'm not feeling particularly brave or courageous. But then if I'm going with someone else, it's like working out. When I know someone else is going to be there that I said I'd be there with, I show up.

Right? So doing this together is good because it keeps you motivated, it keeps you going, but it also keeps you safe so that you're not being influenced by the scene. You're influencing the world.

So find others that you can do this with, and it makes for a really cool thing to do together. So I'll give you an example of how I experienced this myself. So the Steiger Mission School used to be in New Zealand. And so I went to the Steiger Mission School in New Zealand, and I led the outreach there.

And New Zealand is a very secular country, very progressive in terms of social things. And we were doing outreach in Wellington, the capital, and we were doing outreach in the city, and one day I saw a poster on a wall, and the poster was advertising a gay fair. And it was basically like a fair where they were selling things and music and events and all this, but it was all LGBTQ-themed. And I looked at that, and I had a deep conviction from the Lord that we should reach out to these people, because so many people—and we'll talk about this a lot later—in the LGBTQ community, they think that Christians are their enemies, right?

And they don't have real relationships with real Christians. And I felt like God said, I want you to go there, and I want you just to connect relationally with this group. And so I found a number, and I called up the organizer of this fair, and I was like, hey, you know, I'm Aaron. I'm a part of this Christian group.

I wanted to be clear about who we were. And I was wondering if there's anything we can do to serve at the gay fair. And the person on the other end of the phone was a little skeptical at first, and I convinced them, like, no, we're just here to serve.

Can we pick up garbage? Can we serve water? And eventually, all I can tell you is that in the end, they gave us permission to set up our own stall at the gay fair to serve water. And so we arrived at the venue, and it turned out to be the hottest day of the year. And we set up—on the left, we had this, like, very strange film company, and on the right, they were selling trinkets that I will not describe, and then right in the middle of that was the Jesus stall. And we had cups of water, and on the cups, we wrote, whoever drinks the water I give will never thirst again, sign Jesus, because we wanted to make sure that the act that we were doing is in the name of Jesus. It was the hottest day of the year, and we could not give away our water fast enough. Everywhere you looked in the gay fair were people drinking water, reading their cups, and then we had hours and hours of conversations with people that would probably never have talked to Christians.

Ninety-five percent of them were very positive, a few of them, you know, not, but that's part of it. And then what happened is a few weeks later, we were doing an outreach in Wellington in one of the main cities. We were doing this creative performance. And after the creative performance, a guy came up and he said, I saw you guys.

You were at the gay fair. And this was a homosexual man, and we started to talk and build a relationship. And me and another guy and my wife, Jen, built this friendship with him.

He eventually invited us over to come to his apartment for dinner. We spent—I mean, we had weeks where we were just connecting relationally, sharing Jesus. We were reading the Sermon on the Mount together.

It was a really, really cool experience. And this is a guy who absolutely thought of Christians, evangelical Christians, as the enemy. And we were able to develop a friendship and a relationship that totally softened him to the point where he was reading the Bible with us, because we were willing to go to their places and develop relationships. And so, again, this is something that all of us can do in our—whether it's the sphere of influence we already have, or intentionally going to places in order to develop relationships with people that were walking to a church.

So, the key thing in all of this is that this cannot just be human. This has got to be Spirit-led. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to lead and direct our path to the right person, to a person of peace, and to give us supernatural favor. So often, when we're doing outreach, I'll say, Lord, just lead me to one person that you want me to connect with. And so you'll end up connecting with the person of peace who's open to the gospel, but also has influence in their scene, who's able to draw you into their world and build a connection in the world. And so you're able to draw and actually connect with far more people.

But the key point here is this is not just a natural thing. This is a supernatural leading of the Holy Spirit to the right person at the right time. So as you say, okay, Lord, I'm going to start—I'm going to reshape my lifestyle, and I'm going to intentionally go to places in order to develop relationships with people who wouldn't walk into a church. Lord, would you lead me to the right person at the right time? And you do that, and He will lead you.

And you'll find yourself in that relationship like I just described with the guy at the gay fair. All right, so a couple of principles. Now that you've done it, you're in it, you're engaging this scene, couple key basic principles. First of all, relax when you're engaging in secular places. Be yourself. Have fun. Don't be so uptight.

Sometimes like, whoa. When you have that missionary mindset, sometimes that comes with being a little uptight and also trying to force it. So be patient. Don't feel the need to make something happen. It goes back to the point I just said earlier, which is allow the Spirit to direct you to the right person at the right time.

Have a long-term view of it. Don't take yourself too seriously. Sometimes it's awkward. We're all awkward. And most people are not worried about you. They're worried about themselves. They don't even see you, frankly.

So don't worry about it too much. Try to have fun, because joy is contagious. One person in my world that's so good at this is Serena. It's one of the leaders of our Minneapolis team. Her joy draws people. We were doing an outreach during the George Floyd times. We were doing an outreach right where that happened. And there was this couple. And I saw them, because I was praying, Lord, lead me. And I saw them, and they were really kind of cool-looking, edgy. I was like, I really like to talk to them, but I'm not quite brave enough to do it. So I was like, Serena, I want to talk to those people. So she just comes bounding up to them and was like, hey, you guys are cool. We should talk.

And boom, we were talking. And so it wasn't that complicated for her. And so the point is that joy is contagious. And again, that's also the whole point of a team. If you've got those people, use them. That's what I do.

So have fun, relax, be yourself. The second thing is harness the incredible power of asking questions and listening. One of the most powerful expressions of love is to listen.

Again, it's one of the simplest and most powerful expressions of love that you can exhibit to someone is to really listen and ask questions. So the principle, when it comes to this, is three things. There are three steps to doing it right. Number one, listen. Number two, ask questions.

Number three, listen. And it's the simplest and most profound thing that you can do. If you want to go deeper into this stuff, read the old school book How to Win Friends and Influence People, because it's basically those principles. How to really connect, how to build authentic friendships with people. And then, again, the idea here is don't make assumptions.

We put people in boxes just about how they look. So the idea of listening and asking questions, don't make assumptions about them. Really listen. Try to understand them. Learn their real, raw story. Everyone is going through stuff.

Everyone is filtered reality looks good, but in true reality, there's stuff I'm going through. Learn the real story, and what's amazing is people will tell you their real stories. Going back to that story with Serena and those two people, we connected with them. We sat down right in the middle of the George Floyd thing and just talked for hours. And they shared stories, deep, vulnerable stories of brokenness so quickly.

People are really hungry to share their stories. And then, again, really try to understand their perspective. And one of the easiest things, when someone says something that you don't agree with, how did you come to believe that? Really understand.

And oftentimes, two things happen. When you understand how they came to believe, you understand the real issue. Plus, you have a love for them and an empathy for them that you might not have had before. So really try to understand what they believe. And remember, empathy is not the same as agreeing or affirming. Sometimes we're so afraid to listen and understand someone whose view is totally out of alignment with the Bible, but that's okay. That is not the same as agreeing or affirming.

Remember that. And then find common ground and genuine ways to affirm someone. We're going to talk about this more during the spiritual conversations idea, but there's always things that you can affirm in someone. Because whether they're following Jesus or not, they are made in the image of God. And there's things about them that God has designed that you can begin to call out and to affirm. And that is like water to a desert for secular people who are not hearing those words of affirmation. So the principle here is how are we going to build relationships with secular people?

My challenge to you is this. Ask God to highlight. Spend some time alone seeking the Lord. And ask God to highlight one person in your oikos that you will actively pursue for a deeper relationship. And again, don't just pick someone. Seek the Lord and say, Lord, who is it in my family, at my work, in my neighborhood, whatever? The people that are already in my sphere of influence, who do you want me to actively pursue for a deeper relationship? And then second one, ask God for one place, a hobby, cause, or place where you will be relationally present, intentionally, in order to develop new relationships with secular people.

That's my challenge for you to take away from this time. You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Aaron Pierce has been our guest teacher for this program, Building Trust and Friendships, which is from his series, Not Beyond Reach.

He and Chip will join us in a minute to share their application for this message. If you're a parent, are you concerned about the spiritual health of your kids? Do you sense they're drifting from the Christian faith, or perhaps they've already rejected it? In this series, Aaron's going to give us some hope. He'll describe a set of intentional conversations you can use to better understand and reconnect with your kids, and ultimately lead them to the truth of Jesus. If you've missed any of Aaron's messages, catch up any time through the Chip Ingram app. Our Bible teacher, Chip Ingram, is with me now. And Chip, before we continue this meaningful series from Aaron, you had something really important you wanted to share with our listeners.

Thanks so much, Dave. I want to take a few minutes today to talk directly to you, parents and grandparents. Like me, you probably have a mounting concern for your kids and grandkids who are growing up and raising families in our world today. They face challenges that we would have never imagined and will face persecutions for being Christians that most of us had not needed to endure in our lifetime. What's even more concerning is the dilution of the Bible and the confusion over biblical principles saturating the culture. In fact, in many churches today, the dumbing down of Christianity and the resulting numbness in our children's faith is outright devious.

This is not a tactic of flesh and blood. It's a spiritual war. We have to fight these battles in a way that equips the next generation for the war that we're in.

Twenty-five years ago, when God gave me the dream for discipleship ministry, I had no idea how the Lord would grow Living on the Edge to what it is today. Helping Christians to live like Christians is more important now than when we first began, especially for the next generation as they raise our children and our grandchildren. Let me ask you, will you join me and Living on the Edge in this fight for the hearts and the minds of the next generation? We need partners who will stand with us financially to help us get the truth in the right places, in the right way, to cut through the deception that's bombarding our kids each and every day. And right now is an especially potent time to give because every dollar that you give will be doubled dollar for dollar.

I want to thank you for praying and for giving whatever God shows you to do. Together, let's stand for our kids and our grandkids. We can make a difference.

Well, if you want to join us in reaching today's youth with the gospel, partner with us during our mid-year match. From now until July 9th, every dollar you give will be doubled dollar for dollar. To send a gift, call us at 888-333-6003 or go to livingontheedge.org.

That's 888-333-6003 or visit livingontheedge.org. App listeners tap donate. Well, with that, here again is Chip with our guest teacher for this series, Aaron Pierce.

Aaron, thanks again for being with us here today in studio. Today you challenge us to expand our oikos or our sphere of influence to secular places. But I think it's really important for us to define that phrase secular places. You know, I think it's easy to say, yeah, a nightclub or bars or spots.

I mean, those are secular places to engage people. But let's take a minute and share some everyday places that you and I maybe are more comfortable with or on a general basis relate to people. I know for me, it's coffee shops. I mean, I hang out at a bunch of coffee shops real regularly. I get to know the baristas and the people that work there and the lady in the back who bakes.

And another place is when I play golf. I mean, I literally just go on the tee sheet and join groups and I don't know anyone and ask a lot of questions and try and do some of the things that you talk about here. So what do you actually do to build relationships in what you would call secular places?

You know, Chip, that's a really good point. When I'm talking about secular places, I'm talking about everyday opportunities where you can naturally interact with people who would not walk into a church, who are far from God. And if you pay attention, if you ask God to show you, you find that those opportunities are all around you.

The key is intentionality and asking God to reveal to you, where do you want me to be relationally present? You know, I have four kids and they all play soccer, which means that my wife and I spend an insane amount of time hanging out at soccer fields. And what I've found is that this is an incredible opportunity to build relationships with other parents because we're spending hours together on the sidelines and we're traveling to tournaments and sharing meals. And it's just an amazing time for me to build relationships and to get to know them and befriend them and walk them through a journey of friendship that begins to engage in spiritual conversations and eventually gospel conversations.

And I have another friend who loves fancy cars and he's part of a car club that brings together all these car enthusiasts and he develops the relationships there. And he gets to naturally interact with people who wouldn't be ready to come to a church, but they're looking for friendship, they're looking for connection. And so these opportunities are all around us and it just is a matter of intentionality to adopt that missionary mindset right where you are and to pursue people in these places where God gives you those opportunities.

Thanks for that challenge, Aaron. Well, just before we close, would you stop for a minute and pray for Living on the Edge today? We've never seen a greater need for God's truth to go out than right now. And by God's grace, Living on the Edge has provided encouragement, teaching, and personal discipleship resources to more people than ever. So thank you to those who support us in prayer. God is doing amazing things. Well, from all of us here, this is Dave Druey thanking you for joining us for this Edition of Living on the Edge, and I hope you'll be with us next time.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-13 04:11:54 / 2024-06-13 04:24:04 / 12

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