conversational tack-tics

It’s Orientation Week at La Trobe Uni. So between that and the release of Radiohead’s new album, The King of Limbs, it’s fair to say I’ve been a bit … distracted.

The Christian Union’s been getting out there this week. We’ve been contacting people — chatting as they decorated one of the scores of cupcakes people have baked for us, showing people around the campus, and letting them know what we’re on about and what opportunities there are to take Jesus seriously on campus.

It’s been terrific to see and be part of!

And it’s got me reflecting on how my conversations are going — and particularly how I’m going doing what I’m most passionate about: talking with people about Jesus.

I did a bit of sailing as a kid. And I quickly learnt that there are two ways to play it when the wind isn’t at your back, filling your sails and driving directly towards where you want to go.

Either wait and hope that the wind will change. Or get tacking — zig-zagging across the wind so that you’re never heading exactly where you want to go, but you are making some progress.

I think that my conversations tend to fall into a wait and hope kind of pattern when it comes to my desire to speak about Jesus.

But I’m gradually learning the art of ‘conversational tacking’.

Not that I’m trying to force things or that I want to sneakily get to the position of being able to preach at whoever I’m talking to for as long as it takes to argue them into the kingdom.

But rather that I’m getting better at sharing short sharp things — relevant moments from Jesus’ life and ministry (what John Dickson calls ‘gospel bites’) or brief ‘mini-testimonies’ about aspects of my own experience with the Lord or questions that display genuine interest in the person by pressing beyond ‘What are you studying?’.

Sometimes they get me nowhere of course. But that’s OK. Sometimes you inch your way forward. And sometimes, in God’s kindness, the wind turns…

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