Our drive for genuine conversations comes from the beautiful truth that God knows us and has made himself known to us. Within the context of the Paradox Church, we want our City Group gatherings to consist of people developing deep, personal relationships with one another. That will only occur when people believe genuine conversations are happening at that time. It’s interesting that within the life of our church we have people all over Fort Worth faithfully attending City Groups where one person will find it life-giving, another will find it a waste of time. We see this as a huge obstacle namely because the way Christians interact with one another is one of the primary means the Holy Spirit uses to sanctify us.
My mom use to say, and I count it among one of the truest things she ever spoke, “nothing worth doing is easy and anything worth doing will be hard”. Sometimes we believe if we show up to group, we did our part. But in order for this thing to work, we all have to take ownership over asking intentional questions. If the gospel is a language we have to work to be fluent. Applying the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus to our daily lives is something we all need to grow in. We have to give each other space to practice this second language, to mess up and try again. Genuine conversations are about asking what is genuinely relevant to the heart of the believer who is striving to look more like Jesus. If we believe this is worthwhile, why do we think it will be easy?
Here’s the hard thing, someone has to take the first step. There is no “organic” gospel-centered conversation. Just like there is no “falling” in love, deliverance and intentionality surround any sort of commitment. This is going to be work and someone has to lead out in intentionality. Don’t just sit back and wait to be pursued in conversation. If you have something on your heart, share it. The expectation of perfect community, where confrontation is engaged perfectly and lovingly and its received perfectly and responded to well is getting in our way. Give each other grace, be patient with your brothers & sisters. Take the first step, always.
In taking the first step you have knocked on the door of a genuine conversation. The next step is to walk through the door, once it is opened. Avoid the temptation to pepper spray a person with questions, jumping from topic to topic. “How’s work, how’s your mom, how’s your boyfriend?” Instead, listen to what they say, walk through the door they are opening. Actually, listen with intentionality, hear what they emphasize, and ask the Spirit to reveal to you what they are avoiding saying. “How’s work?”… “It’s good.”… “What’s good about it?”
As helpful as formulas are, having genuine conversations means trusting the Holy Spirit to guide you in how to treat your brother and sister. There is not a one-size-fits-all technique for loving one another because that is what we are actually talking about here. How can we “let love be genuine” Rom. 12:9. I love 1 Thess. 5:14 “we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” Admonish the idle. Help the weak. Not admonish the weak, our call is to treat people as individuals and address their individual situations. And most importantly “be patient with them all.” I love what Deacon Jake Ledet said: “there is never a circumstance where impatience is the answer.”
Remember the fruit of the Spirit that God is cultivating in you, “is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Gal. 5:22-23. Cry out in dependence on the Spirit that he may bring about more of these things in our conversations. May we be known for our gentleness and kindness toward one another. Not the cheap kindness that the world offers in the form of avoidance but a kindness and gentleness that only comes out of love.
God knows us and has made himself known to us. Let’s strive to know each other. May the Holy Spirit and the Word of God guide our conversations as we encourage one another to the gospel.
Jalea is a partner at the Paradox Church and attends the Henderson Street City Group in Fairmount with her husband Ryan and her son Levi. Jalea is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Texas.
Next PRDX Discipleship Class: March 7th
We were excited about the great turn out and have planned to create more space to accommodate everyone that wants to be there on March 7. We will talk about the role prayer has in Discipleship. The only registration that is needed is for childcare. Please register your children here.