Lisa is a Headstarter whose particular attention to the sushi and food generally makes you wonder why she actually comes to Headstart each Monday - is it for the community, the training or purely the food? Working at Telstra, below is Lisa's first ever match report (yay!) and her insights into the next talk in our Unpacked series "Low Conversion Rates: I want to share Jesus but it feels hopeless."
The Night in a Tweet
Gospel climate change be real. So in this new climate, what you do and when you do it needs to change, but who you are and who Jesus is remains the same.
What’s today's story:
Today at Headstart, we unpacked sharing Jesus in the workplace - something we all want to do but let's face it, can be deflating. And I wasn't the only one who felt this. Eternal riches gets bumped for trivial activities, colleagues aren't curious when we mention church and "it's just not for me" vaporises hope. Why? To help us understand the climate in which we share Jesus, Mark told a story about the State of Origin.
Being a Blues supporter in NSW is a fairly easy thing because everyone’s going for the Blues, you just cheer along when everyone else does (even if you might not even know what’s going on in the game)
But what would you do if you were the only Blues supporter in a sea of Maroons at the State of Origin in QLD? You’re not on home turf, you’re in a hostile environment, what you do and how you do it may look a little different - would you still stand and cheer in earnest, or would you silently cheer on the Blues inside your head while trying to hide your blue jersey?
Even harder yet, how would you go about trying to convince people that hey, the Blues are actually the better team?
Being booed as a Blue supporter in Queensland is very much how a growing portion of workers view Christian workers. In 2019, we no longer have the luxury of being seen as the “nice people, the good samaritans”, instead we’re seen as the bad guys going around restricting “freedoms” and judging people. We are no longer the trusted pillar or respected brand. Instead, we are butt of all jokes, shouted down when we offer an opinion and the bad guy in the crowd. That guy in the picture.
So how do you convince a Maroons supporter that the Blues team is worth supporting?
A fellow Headstarter had a very perceptive response - “Pay him out”
I initially interpreted that to mean "Insult him’ and I thought to myself that, “That doesn’t sound very constructive, if you pay him out (i.e. insult the guy) and just rant on about how great your team is, you’re probably going to start a fight let alone get him to hear you out”.
But what this Headstarter meant was - "Shout him a beer” - Wow, countercultural right?
You'd start by relating as individual human beings not just "I’m a Blues person, you’re a Maroon”. You'd be generous, opening up that door for another drink, another sports game, another conversation. You'd build up a relationship over your similarities - of loving beer - rather than fight over your differences. And it would take time - no unrealistic timeframes here because we all know how slow Maroons supporters are to change (did I just say that?)
And likewise, in the new gospel climate, what we do and how we do it also needs to change. So how can we go about sharing Jesus today?
Sharing Jesus: God's story
- Don’t change your Position - be confident. Gospel Climate change requires a change in what we do and when we do it, but not a change in who we are and who is in control of the world. Jesus controls this world. Trust that He has equipped you for mission work, at work, and that no one is beyond reach, you can start with anyone as it is ultimately God working through you.
- Change your Posture - 2 Peter 3:15-16 says “Always be prepared 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, keeping a clear conscience so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
Be strong in your convictions and prepared to speak up about your faith. But how do you do it? .. "with gentleness and respect”.
Part of gentleness is listening before you speak and sometimes, just waiting to be asked,. Assertiveness about your own convictions does not have to equal aggressiveness. Don’t be a moral policeman who shoots everyone down because that is not our position in the new climate. Yelling will only be heard as disrespectfully forcing an opinion on others.
- Change your Practice... Drink lots of coffee.
Sam Chan has coined this little phrase which Mark used: Coffee → Dinner → Gospel.
Just like "Shout him a beer", this is how we can share Jesus practically in the workplace. Start with Coffee. Coffee is in a safe public space. Talk about general things, relate to them as a person, get to know them and after a while, a lunch/dinner invitation will be appropriate. Lunch/dinner is in private space where more personal views/values are shared. Shout them lunch, free up your diary and show generosity, as often you’ll find people are a lot more willing to open up in a non-work setting, and from Mark’s experience (and mine), a colleague ticks over to a friend when you voluntarily choose to spend time outside of work with them. It’s not going to happen immediately, it happens in relationship, and it might take 1 year or 2, but starts small and accumulates over time.
My story at work
I recently went through a restructure at work so at one point I wasn’t even sure I’d have a job! This really made me think about what I am really at work for - the people & relationships, not the tasks, and it really drove the urgency - how can I use this place and circumstance which God has placed me in right now to bring glory to him? How have I been sharing the gospel with the colleagues I have become friends with and see day in day out? Because jobs aren’t forever, people change jobs (whether voluntarily or involuntarily) and while I have the chance I should make the most of the 5 lunchtimes a week, the countless coffee runs to bring a colleague closer to God.
And I am encouraged - it’s not going to happen immediately, but each coffee that we get, each time that we grab lunch, is an opportunity to hear about their life and open up about mine in turn (hint: if you listen to their stories, they’re a lot more likely to listen to yours!).
And personally I might just add another P - it’s Pray. Pray for the specific people at work you want to share Jesus with, pray for building solid work relationships so that you can talk about topics like faith and the gospel, pray for opportunities. God is powerful and can change even the hardest of hearts, just like he has for each one of us.