The Courageous Conversations initiative, created in partnership with department heads in the Program Department of THQ, will ask Salvationists of the Southern Territory to develop and deepen relationships. The purpose is to build a spirit of unity and acceptance within the church and to influence community outside of the church. Courageous Conversations is not a quick fix to social ills but a long term investment in meaningful relationships.
To effectively impact community we must be unified as a church and not just at a surface level. We all know that we are to love one another. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say “I’m commanded to love you – I don’t have to like you.” I don’t know too many people who will stay in a church where people say they love them, but their actions show that they do not like them. I believe God wants something much deeper.
Jesus said “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this, all will know that you are My disciples if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 NKJV.
It is how we love one another in the church that the world and our communities will know that we are His disciples. I wonder what it looks like when we love but do not like each other. Being taught that God might not like what you do, but He loves you with a sacrificial and everlasting love, is quite different than “I love you but don’t like you.”
We can achieve deeper relationships by being intentional in talking with one another. Creating a safe space and being honest with one another. To move beyond religious jargon to an open dialogue which allows us to be ourselves. Tearing down the walls that divide us. Permitting one another to challenge my wrong behaviors and tendencies which might be offensive, and better align them with God’s word. Eventually allowing us to invite the community into a united Army on a mission to love our community as Jesus would love them.
Start the conversations with people in your circle (church or work) who are not like you. Begin with your testimony, your story. The good, the bad and the ugly. Talk about how God has redeemed the past and is building a future. As they are sharing try to imagine what it is like to walk a mile in their shoes, both past, and present; remembering that confidentiality of each others story is essential to a group deepening relationships.
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