Speak Their Language? Looking for Common Ground

Post a Comment » Written on June 17th, 2013     
Filed under: Connection, Reflection, YM Network
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Blog by Dave Sippel – Senior Consultant and Director of Connections

I visited an amazing church recently. I had the opportunity to lead 15 focus groups over the course of 3 days. I was there to help this church raise the value for ministries to children and youth. Each night as the focus group schedule ended the head custodian was pretty anxious to close up. He wasn’t rude, but he really wanted to get home. His body language was closed off and he had no desire to chitchat. Then he mentioned the church boiler. He’d been working on it earlier in the day. The church had some flooding and the boiler room was the biggest casualty.photo

I asked him, “Who works on your boiler?” He squinted at me and said, “TMI.” He didn’t feel like talking shop with a guy in a dress shirt and khakis. I said, “Hey, I am only asking because I am the son of a boiler man. I spent half of my teenage years in boiler rooms.” His eyes lit up. I had found some common ground. Next thing you know, I am on a tour of the old boiler room. We talked for a little while as he shared some old paperwork on the boiler. He even read me a story about some of his relatives that had worked for Kewanee Boiler years ago.

It was a powerful reminder to me about ministry in general. None of us is the same as any other. We’re not the same but we can still be in relationship with people who are very different from us. We may have different jobs or come from different family types, but we all feel overwhelmed sometimes. Sad things happen to all of us. As believers we all tend to feel pretty unworthy of God’s love, too. God loves us anyway…all of us. What is our best response? Well, to love God’s people of course.

So, can we speak to skaters? How about jocks, the loners, and choral geeks like me? I think we can. We just need to look for common ground. We may not be able to speak from experience about doing a fakey crooked grind from a goofy stance down the handrail of a six set. But, we can talk about choosing a career, dating, school pressures, family stuff and the search for meaning in our lives. Get out there and find the “boiler room” in your ministry. I am sure it’ll lead to some great conversations.

 

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