There is a well-known Chinese proverb that contains more than a little truth 'whoever does not know the village they came from will never find the village they are looking for'. John Drane in 'Do Christians Know How To Be Spiritual' comments that it is the past that will help us and others explain what they are looking for. In an evangelistic sense, as we dialogue with non-believers about their lives, about their past, we can get a glimpse of what they are and are not looking for in terms of future spirituality. It is a 'must do' to listen and learn about the journey that people have walked in order to effectively encourage them into the future, and hopefully a future in Christ. Let's think of your friend who comes from a Catholic upbringing where they were unfortunately treated harshly and very legalistic. It would be unwise not to try and understand their experience; unwise not to engage this person in a conversation to ascertain exactly how they felt about this. And in gathering information about this village that they came from, you will help them discover and articulate the village they are looking for. As Christians we believe that Jesus is the village that everyone is looking for. Not religion, not legalism, not abuse, not regulations but Jesus. But to discover Jesus, there is much to be said in looking at the past to clearly articulate the dissatisfaction and then to look forward to a preferred future.
1) What is the background of those you are reaching out to?
2) What is it that your friend was dissatisfied about in the past?
3) What aspects of Jesus would minister to your friend the most?
4) What topics about Christianity do you need to steer away from with your friend?