It would be splendid if we all felt as if we could talk with others about our faith, about God, comfortably and without wavering in our beliefs. For many (if not most) of us, that can be easier said than done. Even if we have been trained in some type of evangelism, today’s polarized world gives evidence that a “program” often will not work as well as we hope.
Steve and Cheri Saccone address that very issue in their new book, Talking About God: Honest Conversations About Spirituality. Rather than a formula or a step-by-step plan, they offer their experience and insight through six examples of themes most of us know are prominent when we start to talk with someone about God. They do so by inviting us into conversations with six different individuals who are each “on the other side of faith” and how they respond.
The book is designed to address these questions that they highlight at the outset:
“As followers of Jesus, how do we hold on to our convictions and cherished beliefs while giving other people the space to hold on to their own as well? And even more complicated than that, how do we spread the message of the hope we have, the Good News, without dishonoring, belittling, or insulting people in the process?”
The reality often is that our message gets lost in how we fail to give dignity to the person we would like to reach. We can be tempted to talk more than we listen, offer platitudes, or be condescending and disingenuous in our approach.
Listen to how Steve and Cheri respond to these common issues:
“If there’s a time when dignity should be front and center, it’s when we’re talking about God. We Christ followers talk much about love when it comes to showing and spreading our faith, as we should. But what does love really look like? Love looks a lot like dignity. It recognizes the gravity of a person. It recognizes the worthiness of a person. And it is truly genuine.”
I found the pages between the cover of this book to be filled with wisdom and insight. Additionally, they modeled more of how Jesus approached or responded to those who were not His followers when He walked the earth. He listened well and loved them without compromising the truth. Most of us need more practice to improve how we represent Him.
The authors give some lists of do’s and don’ts after giving us a window into their understanding of how to apply the truths of how we love people and show them Jesus.
One of the premises that is foundational is this:
“People cannot lead others where they have not gone. And they ought not ask others to do what they are not willing to do themselves. So often, we as Christ followers ask people who are from God to do what we who are close to God are not able or willing to do – to be authentic, vulnerable, and emotionally honest.”
This book is one that shows in the telling of the conversations as Steve and Cheri expose us to these themes:
- Someone who is struggling to feel the presence of God at a heart level
- Someone who is having difficulty embracing the claim that Jesus is the only way to salvation
- Someone who is battling between self-reliance and God-reliance
- Someone whose shame holds them back from receiving grace and forgiveness
- Someone who is stuck from the effect of depression and anxiety
- Someone who is caught in an unmanageable battle involving sexuality
As you read these real-life stories, I think you will learn much and often return to this book’s pages to discover the authors’ gifted responses to talking about God with others, ways that offer dignity and set aside a formulaic approach that doesn’t look very much like love or Jesus.
To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.