Perhaps, like me, you know you ought to share your faith with others. You believe the good news and want others come to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, but you are as turned off as anyone by that tone-deaf-evangelism. Formulaic presentations and canned sales-pitches and one-size-fits-all approaches don’t ring true or require you actually listen to the story of those you are doing evangelism to. How do we share our faith in a way that is warm, inviting and honoring of the faith journeys of those we are talking too? Mary Schaller and John Crilly suggest a different approach in The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conservation.
Schaller is the president of Q place and Crilly is its former national field director. Q place is an organization which works with churches to create environments for small group participants to explore questions of God and the Bible together. In The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations they suggest a orientation, and a set of practices which enable Christians to share their faith which honors other worldviews, and life experiences. Yes, evangelism remains important, but it doesn’t explode. It happens organically in the context of relationship as we seek to love, welcome and engage unbelievers as they are. Seeing them as they are and listening well to their stories is as important as sharing our faith with them.
The “nine arts” are described under three major headings. Part I: Getting Ready gives us an orientation toward sharing our faith through noticing who are neighbors are, committing to praying for them and relationally listening to their stories (instead of transactionally listening as we wait our turn to speak). Part II: Getting Started suggests three practices which help us create welcoming, engaging and safe environments, learning to ask good questions, loving well, and hospitality. Part III: Keeping it Going, explores practices that keep faith-based discussions going: facilitating, serving together and sharing (your faith). Additionally, Part IV: Ongoing Spiritual Conversations provides practical suggestions and encouragement for making your own “Q place.”
The “nine arts” are important for anyone who seeks to share their faith with others organically. It is significant that the ‘evangelism’ part of this book only comes into focus as the final practice. If you follow the trajectory of this book, you will not vomit your faith on others but will share your journey with Jesus in the context of real relationship. I like the approach a lot. And appreciated Crilly and Schaller’s stories of friends they have shared life and their faith with. I give this four stars.
Note: I received this book from the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review.