I live in a world where God is big and brazenly uncontainable. I grew up in a world where God was black and white. God lived in a nice, clean box with perfectly straight lines and sharp edges. That box was small and well defined. I had an impossible time believing the God in that box loved me or anyone else. The God who lived there was pretty angry and very fixated on Hell.
My family loves the God who rests in that nice, clean box and my embrace of a much bigger God that no box can contain is terrifying to them. My rejection of their theological understanding means that someone must constantly try to convert me. I, along with all my poor denominational friends, have a first class ticket to Hell. Again, this means I require converting…frequent, prolonged, intensive converting. The problem is all their efforts to convert me have failed. I am still a Methodist after nearly 10 years of explicit conversion tactics being employed.
How not to convert someone:
Step 1: Bombard them with written propaganda.
My family regularly sends me propaganda in the form of bulletins, personal letters, and even entire books. This propaganda clearly tells me that all of my life choices are wrong and I am obviously going to Hell. I am sure you will find this surprising, but I read very little of the biased materials they send. It mostly ends up in the trash.
If you don’t want to convert someone, but you do want to kill vast numbers of trees in order to print poorly designed, religious materials, I encourage this option.
Step 2: Make awkward social media comments.
I am not sure anything highlights God’s transformational prowess quite like a Facebook rant on someone else’s post. Certain family members think it is appropriate to correct my crazy, Methodist nonsense in front of all of my friends on social media, because public shaming has cornered the market on increasing professions of faith, apparently.
If you don’t want to convert someone, but you do want to be blocked, please shame others on social media for believing something you do not.
Step 3: When in doubt, be confrontational in person.
Nothing says lovin’ like a heated debate about religion at the dinner table, an intimate moment of confessing your loved one is bound for Hell complete with tears, or having a family member read one verse from scripture loudly very near your person in order to prove you wrong (because those verses are all stand alone, I am sure). Seriously, I have lived through all of these and more.
If you don’t want to convert someone, but you do want to make someone feel incompetent, stupid, and unworthy, then this is truly the best option around.
For those of you who do want to convert someone, possibly help God in the disciple making process even, I have two tips for you:
(1) Build relationships where you model Christ’s love.
I am a sold out Christian, who happens to attend The United Methodist Church, because a handful of disciples decided to do something really radical. They made me feel loved, welcomed, and accepted. When I met them, I was royally hacked at God for a zillion+ reasons, but they were not in it to prove me wrong about God with words and confrontation. They simply showed me that God’s love was much bigger than I could fathom.
(2) Show people God’s grace.
Tell people about God’s grace. Be a living example of God’s grace. Share God’s grace with others as often as possible. When I was in need of being converted, I was also in need of grace more than anything else in the entire world. I have a strange feeling that I am not alone.
Amazingly enough, I still need grace, even now that I am a disciple! I need big, bountiful heaps of it and guess what? God’s got more than enough grace to go around, so share a little.
My name is Leia, which should tell you that my dad’s favorite movie is Star Wars and I have some very unfortunate nicknames. I studied International Relations in undergrad and couldn’t find a job to save my life, so I changed my plans and studied communications in graduate school. Now, I have served The United Methodist Church for nearly 7 years in fundraising, discipleship, and communications.