Georgene Rice of KPDQ-FM interviews Dale Fincher, co-author of “Coffee Shop Conversations: making the most of spiritual small talk”. Dale and his wife Jonalyn speak and write through the organization Soulation.
Georgene: A study done in 2008, released by the PEW Forum on religion and public life, notes the number of people creating their own interpretations of faith and culture is growing. There are as many styles of faith as there are ways to order a latte’. How does a Christian have normal conversations about their faith without sounding bigoted or intolerant? In “Coffee Shop Conversations” readers find a conversation style that can honor Christ in terms of attitude and approach, yet respectfully engage co-workers, neighbors, and friends that may not share their views.
Why are so few of us are willing to step out and be open about our faith?
Dale: I think there is a long history of that being the case. For quite some time we’ve thought that our faith was merely a matter of opinion and that when we bring it into the public sphere it doesn’t have a lot of evidence to back it up. So, we may not have the confidence we need to share our faith.
Georgene: We’re fearful that there will be some sort of confrontation or questions we may not be able to answer. In your introduction of the book you refer to “humble confidence” as the two things we should bring into conversation.
Dale: For the humility part, if we think we have the “truth” or claim to be “saved” we may come into the conversation with some kind of superiority, thinking we are better than another person. Instead, we need the humility to know that is not the case. We are all in the same boat. We all woke up on this planet together and all have to journey together as members of society trying to figure out the truth.
The confidence part is to grow in our awareness and understanding that Jesus was the smartest man who ever lived and knew what He was talking about. When we grow to know Him more and have good reasons for our faith, the confidence naturally buoys up in our souls. We find we have good reasons to back up our confidence.
Georgene: Your book is divided into three parts. Talk a little about how the book is structured.
Dale: The first, “Manner of a Loving Discourse” is about how to have good conversations with people. It’s not just about sharing your faith, it’s about how to talk to somebody. Learning to have respect for somebody with humility. Getting into the other person’s shoes. It’s not necessarily about what we are saying, but what they are hearing us say.
The second, “Restocking Your Tools” covers two major rules, context and genre, that helps us read the Bible. If a believer is reading the Bible using these tools they will build the confidence they need to articulate their faith.
In the last, “Helping Friends Home” we share tips for having a conversation that allow people to feel loved, but also allows us to hold our ground. We have not failed if they don’t agree with us in that moment. They can still be our friend. We need to meet people as our equal, rather than “that guy who is distant and different from me”. A person with a tattoo often indicates they are expressing something very personal and is an end road into their soul—that they may be hurting or that it is a milestone in their life.
Georgene: You begin your book asking the question that was put to Jesus, “Who is my neighbor? Who is God calling me to?”
Dale: Then we turn the question around from “who” is my neighbor to “what” is my neighbor. That is the capstone of this book. To find the answer that my neighbor is a human being made in God’s image, and has the dignity that is deserved. Understanding that means that I will approach them differently. I will not see him as someone who is less than me or unworthy. That is the good news, the message, we have for today’s young generation.
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