There is a definite emphasis on “practices” here are Faith+Lead. Beliefs are adapted gradually as we behave our way into them. Some might, however, harbor prejudice or fear about “evangelism” and the ways it has been done intrusively or without respect for others’ differences. So, many of us are out of practice. It may feel unnatural to bring up our faith stories or inquire about other people’s faith in casual conversation.
Faith+Lead created a tool that can help! When members of our staff were asked to use this survey to interview at least one person who identifies themselves as a “church leader” and one who identifies as an “everyday Christian” or “seeker,” the act of doing so surprised me. One of the people I interviewed was my mom. My mom loves church more than anyone I know, although at this point in her life (as a retired teacher), she avoids being designated as the leader on projects. As I listened to her answer questions about a time she had felt close to God, or why she participates in church, or what she appreciates about her specific congregation, I heard faith stories I had never heard before. Some puzzle pieces fell into place around her relationship with God and church in ways I had never seen directly before. It was a heartfelt and fruitful conversation.
After that experience, I suggested to the team that this kind of instrument should be shared more widely. It wasn’t just about gathering data, but the process itself is practicing evangelism. You are welcome to use Faith+Lead’s survey for interviews in your congregation or community. (In doing so, you’re providing Faith+Lead with data to shape our future offerings too!) Or you might sample the questions, then create your own for your context. Think of the possible configurations of listeners and storytellers, with this set of questions as their guide:
- Youth interviewing elders or vice versa
- Council/vestry/board members interviewing church or community members
- Outreach committee/team interviewing neighbors
Be clear: this interview practice is not about gathering information, although the task-oriented among us will feel relief at having specific directions. It is not a survey to be done individually. The actions of interviewing and listening—the process—are their own reward. The storytelling is what builds relationships, between us and with God, and that is evangelism.