Getting Started with the Curious
Almost all of the people who came to faith in the Bible began by being curious. If the person God has placed in your path is asking questions like “How can I know God is real?” “What would a relationship with God do for me?” “How can you believe the Bible is true?” then ask if you can continue the conversation, even if they are not ready to follow Jesus yet. Your goal is to steward their curiosity and help them transition to belief. The truth is that genuine conversion isn’t fueled by a person’s curiosity but by the call of Jesus on their life. You’ll help to discover that Jesus is calling them as you cultivate their curiosity through a relationship.
1. Don’t just default to inviting a CURIOUS person to church or Journey Group. Find a way to cultivate their curiosity through an ongoing conversation so they get used to a discipleship relationship.
2. To eliminate unwanted pressure and awkwardness, let CURIOUS people know that if they investigate Jesus with you…
the speed of their exploration will be up to them.
they can explore without committing (but BELIEVING involves commitment).
their exploration could either lead to something really special or maybe not.
3. Use a combination of sources in your exploration. Curious people want to know what the Bible says (more than the NOT CURIOUS), but may still want to consider other sources like science, philosophy, intuition or personal experience.
4. Help them understand that what they are interpreting as their own curiosity could be more of a calling by Jesus to follow Him. It’s easy to confuse the two, especially if you don’t even know that there is a Holy Spirit that draws people to God.
5. Resist the urge to require doubt-free faith. Simply put, a BELIEVER’s faith involves a person’s willingness to believe outweighing their tendency to doubt. Doubt-free faith probably isn’t very healthy. As long as doubt doesn’t cripple the entire process of belief, it actually can be a useful part of faith (driving both our humility and propelling us to God for answers). When a person gets stuck on a part of the story they simply can’t believe, tell them to ask God to “meet them there” and help them work through it without shutting down the whole process (“I believe! Help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24).
We are indebted to our friends at the Canadian National Baptist Convention for the Discipleship Stages visual and helpful descriptions. See Hebrews 5:12-14, 1 Corinthians 3:1-2, Ephesians 4:13-16, 1 Peter 2:2-3, Colossians 1:10 for further study on spiritual formation as a process.