How to Discuss Tough Topics

How to Discuss Tough Topics

HOW TO DISCUSS TOUGH TOPICS

When was the last time you engaged in a discussion with someone you disagreed with? Our current culture is becoming more and more polarized and engaging in less and less dialogue. With each side creating an enemy of the other, it’s become more and more challenging to have a discussion—not a fight—about really important topics without risking damage to our relationship with one another.

As Christians, we can model to the world what it looks like to love one another even as we disagree. Because the body of Christ is blessed with lots of different kinds of people with differing backgrounds, perspectives, and personal convictions, we’re not always going to agree on every topic, even if we agree on main doctrines of faith.

Those conversations can not only be stretching but also God-glorifying, if we engage in them with these principles in mind. These guidelines come from Christlike Dialogue, a ministry dedicated to helping engage people with differing views in conversations that honor God.Keep in mind they are guidelines, not rules, or “steps to follow”. While they’re helpful in providing safe parameters for a discussion of differences, the primary goal is to prepare our hearts to be one in Christ before we begin to dialogue.

1 // PRAY Ask God to help you gain a greater understanding of each other, of what is true, and of what God might want to reveal about Himself through the conversation. – Psalm 18:30

2 // FIND COMMON GROUND Identify a common subject of interest for the dialogue. Read John 4:1-26 for an example. It can be anything you can identify as common ground (such as water in the example) that might help you relate to one another more clearly.

3 // BE HONEST Authenticity is highly valued. – Proverbs 24:26

4 // BE HUMBLE If one of the parties is in authority over the other(s),
it’s important to give people under authority freedom to respectfully discuss matters of concern without negative consequences. – Matthew 20:25-28

5 // BE TEACHABLE Remain open to the possibility of being wrong about your position, and to the possibility of being deceived. – Proverbs 3:5-6 | Jeremiah 17:9 | James 1:26

6 // LISTEN Learn from one another and don’t attempt to persuade others to your point of view or assume someone is wrong just because he or she doesn’t agree with you. Seek to understand and be understood as to why each of you believe what you believe. James 1:19-20 | Philippians 2:3-4

7 // PURSUE TRUTH Agree to give one another the freedom to speak the truth as each perceives it, without interruption from the other(s), except to ask questions for clarification. Agree to consider the Bible as a reliable source of truth and wisdom for life’s challenges. Psalm 51:6 | John 14:6 | 8:32

8 // PERSEVERE IN LOVE It is not important to agree with one another; it is important that you extend mutual respect and perfect courtesy to others, despite differences. This does not mean that you condone something about which you disagree; but it does mean that you don’t withdraw your love from others just because they don’t see things exactly as you do. Remember: the relationship is more important than the issue. John 13:34-35 | Titus 3:1-2

9 // JUDGE NOT Refrain from being critical or judgmental of others. – Matthew 7:1-5

10 // TRUST GOD WITH THE OUTCOME Agree to leave another person’s decision, and the consequences of that decision, between that person and God. (1 Peter 2:23 | 2 Timothy 2:24-26 ) Some situations may require church discipline to be administered in love. – Matthew 18:15-17

For more information about Christlike Dialogue and their mission, visit their website HERE.

Why I Work at the Life Center

Why I Work at the Life Center

WHY I WORK AT THE LIFE CENTER

Mary Feeney, our Life Center Coordinator, works with seniors, food bank clients, English and Spanish GED students, and more at the Life Center in North Littleton. Here’s why she’s passionate about her work there:

Widows, orphans, immigrants, and the poor are our neighbors and scripture consistently calls God’s people to look after them. James writes that looking after them is religion that God “accepts as pure and faultless.” My journey towards working with these people started when I was only five years old. The only kindergarten girl in my small class, I was left out by all the first graders who said I was too little to be their friend; this experience initially opened my eyes and heart to people who feel unwanted and marginalized.

Later, my parents took me every month to visit forgotten people abandoned in low-income nursing homes and sent me to Haiti and India on mission trips. These experiences and other interactions with minorities and the poor have helped me understand my own privilege in our society. My education at Denver Seminary taught me that I can leverage it on behalf of the voiceless and powerless.

My work at the Life Center flows out of the new identity that I’ve been given as God’s beloved daughter. The Holy Spirit lives in me and gives me His heart for those who are hurting and broken. Listening to stories men, women, and children confronting homelessness, mental illness, discrimination, poverty, loneliness, and a sense of alienation from others and God breaks my heart every time.

However, I know that the same hope and redemption I’ve been given are available to them and working at the Life Center gives me an opportunity to participate in meeting the tangible needs of these individuals. Healing is a painful road and restoration doesn’t happen overnight. But the volunteers who come faithfully to serve are Jesus’ hands and feet as they care for our clients –participating in this process is a privilege that I am honored to have.

In an increasingly pluralistic culture, my hope is that the witness of those of us serving through Mission Hills’ Life Center will demonstrate that God hasn’t forgotten the widows, orphans, immigrants, or the poor. Participating in the Kingdom work of testifying to God’s goodness, grace, and abundant love is a joy.

 

Meet Mary and the Life Center staff at the Life Center Informational Meeting this weekend. Find out more information HERE.

4 Ways to Care for Those in Need

4 Ways to Care for Those in Need

4 WAYS TO CARE FOR THOSE IN NEED

James reminds us that God has a heart for the poor and the outcast. This isn’t new. God has always unexpectedly chosen those who the world hasn’t esteemed—like Rahab the prostitute or Mary, the mother of Jesus, whom he places in Jesus’ lineage.

God is not off-put by others’ needs and as people representing him, neither should we. But day to day, it’s hard to know how to best respond to those in need in our community. You may be in a hurry or worry that giving money to someone directly won’t best benefit them. However, we can’t let those fears or discomforts dictate our priorities. Instead, God’s priorities to care for the poor should become a priority for us, too.

Here are some things you can do that show that you care for the poor and homeless in our community:

Be empathetic.

An urban ministry leader once asked me, “What point would you have to get to before you would stand on the street and hold a sign?” The answer is a pretty desperate and painful place. Sure, we all make choices that have consequences, but we also want people to help understand us and our stories—not just make assumptions about us based on our current circumstances. Believe the best and show compassion because it’s only by God’s grace any of us experience any good in this world.

Say “Hello.”

Most people who are homeless are often ignored, as people avert their eyes or rush past them. It’s a small but powerful thing just to make eye contact and say “hello.” No, it doesn’t change their current circumstances, but it shows them that they’re seen and still part of our community.

Share resources

In the winter, pack bags of gloves, hats, and chapstick to hand out to people you may drive past. In the summer, keep water and snacks handy in your car to give to someone standing out in the sun. Being prepared with these things shows that you took time to consider the needs of others and took action to do something to meet them. You can also share information about community resources, like the Life Center, to help individuals get connected with those who can offer even more help.

Support local partners

Mission Hills intentionally partners with local organizations who meet practical needs, attempt to fight systematic poverty, and share the hope of Jesus in our area. The Life Center feeds hundreds of low-income individuals and families in Littleton each week through their Food Bank. Open Door Ministries serves individuals and families in the Denver metro area through providing long-term housing, job skill training, quality preschool and childcare services at low cost, and more. Denver Rescue Mission provides emergency housing, meals, and long-term housing to those in Denver experiencing homelessness. By supporting these organizations with your time or your money, you help to serve those in our community receive help and hope from people who care and tangibly share the love of Jesus.