by Alex Himaya
The best compliment I’ve received in a long time was “Really? You’re a pastor?” It was on an airplane and it was from the man seated next to me. We had been talking for over an hour, mostly about the business trip he was on. When he finally asked me what I did for a living, and I told him I was a pastor, he responded with, “Huh. But you seem so down to earth and you haven’t judged me.”
I love airplanes. That’s because I love meeting people and getting to know them. And when you’re locked in an airplane for two hours, you’ve got a captive audience right next to you. In the past, I’ve led with “Hi, my name’s Alex and I’m a pastor” and let the conversation be defined by that. But recently, I’ve realized that may actually end up being a conversation stopper. So, I like to just get to know the person, find out what they do and what they’re interested in. Ninety-nine percent of the time the conversation comes around to God and religion without me ever revealing my occupation.
I think we as Christians have a reputation as conversation stoppers. When we engage people on the other side of an issue, most of the time, the conversation doesn’t end the way we want it to. It gets stopped short or our side of the issue ends up being misrepresented. And that’s largely our fault. We prefer to be heard, as opposed to actually listening. We want the benefit of the doubt, but we’re reluctant to give it. Instead, we lead with our idea of what’s right and wrong – our belief – instead of leading with love.
The best way to stop a conversation short is by being judgmental and “religious.” By that, I mean we come off as confrontational and condemning, rather than relational and loving.
Religion, for me, is a man-made path to God. That’s how I define it in my new book. It’s a list of things we do or don’t do that will either make God happy or make him mad. When we go down that dead end of religion, we usually end up judging others based on their behavior.
SOURCE: Fox News
Dr. Alex Himaya is the author of “Jesus Hates Religion: Finding Grace in a Works Driven Culture” and founding and Senior Pastor of theCHURCH at BattleCreek, located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It is one of the fastest growing churches in America, having grown from 120 to over 5,500 in just eight years. Himaya received his bachelor’s degree from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas and his Masters degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. He finished his Doctorate in Church Growth and Evangelism in May 2002.