This morning I have an entry from guest blogger John Amandola:

“I like the good feeling that I got when I came to church today. I am a spiritual person.”

I was enjoying my conversation with a young man who was visiting our church plant this week. He is a grad student at a nearby university, and was brought by a friend who attends. His answer to my question of what motivated him to visit our church was so very typical of people who live in the New York area. The vast majority of people here consider themselves to be spiritual and believe in some form of God, but are unfamiliar with the gospel message and do not regularly attend any religious services. As he munched on his bagel, he went on to explain, “I believe that all religions are basically the same, the difference is how we practice it.”

In the past, I would have whipped out my apologetics training and lectured my new friend that truth is mutually exclusive; thus logically proving that it is impossible for all religions to be true at the same time. I might have won an argument, but probably would have lost any future opportunity to engage with this young man.

As I have grown older, wiser and more gracious, I have learned to listen more and talk less. I have learned that the feeling he experienced might actually be God working in his heart through our community, and so it is better to step back a bit and allow God to continue in that work. So, instead of an argument, I asked, “Please tell me more about what you believe.” As we enjoyed our conversation together, he opened up about his beliefs, and I was able to express gratitude to him for visiting. I invited him to come again, and he gladly accepted.

In our urban, “post-Christian” setting, I believe that the best environment to reach people who consider themselves to be “spiritual” is a gracious, gospel-centered community; a community that is patient enough to allow them to belong before they believe; a community in which The Holy Spirit is clearly at work.

You’re welcome to check out John’s church’s website: Lighthouse Church.