Spiritual openness and asking for permission


(Carson Weitnauer) #1

Hi friends,

I noticed with interest a new poll on spirituality in Britain:

Here’s one slide that is very interesting:

A very substantial percentage of people would be comfortable talking with a friend who knows them well about their faith. 56% in person, 47% online. And a significant percentage would be open to being prayed for, receiving a gift of something to watch or read, or invited to church or a youth event. Obviously, there are also significant percentages who would be uncomfortable or don’t know.

This leads me to think that one of the most important questions we can ask a friend is for permission. For instance:

  • “Would it be okay if I shared with you something about my faith?”
  • “Would it be okay if I told you about an event coming up at my church?”
  • “Would you feel comfortable if I prayed for what you just shared with me?”

Etc… Since we don’t know how they will feel, simply asking for permission can show respect for their point of view. If they give permission, then we know it is safe to proceed. If they say, no, not right now, we avoid blundering into something that could break trust.

(Omar Rushlive Lozada Arellano) #2

Hi @CarsonWeitnauer. This is interesting. It shows on the table that there is a high percentage on the uncomfortable category in being prayed for, gave something to watch or read about their faith, and being invited to church. It begs the question why those people would say that they are uncomfortable. I would want to know in case.

Aside from that, if a Christian they know talked to them about their faith in person, or online, at least they are more likely to be comfortable about it.

I am with you on your point in asking for permission from non-Christian friends. I know some people who lost trust with some of their Christian friends, since they thought that they would hang out somewhere, but they did not know they will go to a church service which they did not agree with. Some thought that they will have a business meeting, but it was used for them to go to church, which the person declined, since the person did not agree with it.

(Carson Weitnauer) #3

Hi Omar, yes, I think a bait-and-switch tactic is very poor form. “Let’s talk business” and meeting at a street address, just to learn the real desire is to be brought to someone’s church, would seem likely to break trust. I would feel that the intention and the goal of the meeting was misrepresented, which contrasts with the truthfulness of the gospel.

(Jennifer Judson) #4

I think we may need to look at this specific survey through the lens of British culture (and history). First, at least older generations in Britain are much more formal than Americans and may well consider their spiritual state to be private. We do see that in parts of the US where people tend to be more formal in manner(s).

Also, Britain’s long history with a state religion. Many in the population (especially older) may have the attitude that “this is what I was brought up to believe and even if I don’t attend much I know what I’m supposed to believe.”

Also, the secularization of Europe in general has left many with the attitude that there’s no place for proselytizing in the marketplace.

Wherever we are in the world, I agree with Carson that asking before sharing is respectful and helpful. Even with persons not willing for us to share, there’s an opportunity to begin (or build on) a relationship. Ask them more about themselves, delight in who they are, show them their value to you as a person. If on other occasions they mention a difficulty they have, tell them you’ll remember that in your prayers. Over time you can ask if there’s something you can be praying about for them. Help them develop a comfort level with your relationships taking very gentle steps. Sincerity, kindness, and true friendship can be a powerful illustration of the Gospel…and can lead to an actual invitation to share.