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Friday, August 19, 2011

Conversation vs. Conversion - Story

One of the largest differences between a conversation and a conversion attempt is the presence (or lack) of story. Conversations give you a chance to share stories, compare stories and join in each other's stories. Conversion attempts have one narrative and it's non-negotiable.

If I'm attempting to convert you, I have to stick to my story and I can't give any power or credence to yours. Every time your story comes up I have to tear it apart to show how my story is better. Whenever you talk, I'm not thinking about what you're saying, I'm just thinking about how I can turn it back to my story. Conversion isn't a very friendly way to interact.

But a conversation allows two stories to merge. I get to share my story and you get to share your story. We're both interested in building each other up and appreciating the value that we bring with our stories. When you're talking I can just think about your story and how what you're saying relates to the rest of your experience. I enjoy looking for ways that our stories overlap and coincide. Conversation is the posture of friendship.

Jesus was a master of story. He told stories and he listened to people's stories. He sat at dinner and talked with people that no one else would hear (Zacheus in Luke 19), because he was interested in conversation and story. If you notice, Jesus never pushed people to convert. He listened and loved them. He pushed people, but it was for conversation. Jesus boldly invited himself over to Zacheus' house -- he was kind of pushy about it. But the result was Zacheus joining in Jesus' story.

How can you invite people -- boldy -- to conversation?

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