Friday, July 29, 2005

Converse, Conversion, is there a relationship?

Read that a few times and play with its meanings.

Here are a few questions and a few thoughts.

Is relationship evangelism unethical?
Does the word converse have any relationship to conversion?
Is inter faith dialogue evangelistic?

What do you think?

It seems to me that to build a relationship with someone solely to convert them is to not build a relationship with them. However if I build a relationship with someone and it has any meaning and I am part of the mission of God then actually much of what passes between us will be an act of faith sharing that is evangelistic. If this happens between myself and someone of another faith we will be both entering into inter faith dialogue and it will be evangelistic. The key then perhaps is not to ask ‘how can I do ethical evangelism in a multi faith world’ but how do I build genuine relationships’? it is just a few thoughts!

BTW Converse has two meanings, one is 'to engage in conversation' the other is 'to be contrary to'. anyone offer any background to that?


Brodie said...

converse (v.)
"to communicate (with)," 1596; earlier "to move about" (1340), from O.Fr. converser (12c.), from L. conversari (see conversation).
converse (adj.)
"exact opposite," 1570, from L. conversus "turn around," pp. of convertere "to turn about" (see convert). Originally mathematical.

1 i z said...

Couldn't agree more re the relationships thing.

A few years ago some old 'con-evo' friends were visiting me in Manchester. Ok I confess I had deliberately taken them to the Gay Village for a drink to push their boundaries a little! Naughty I know.

Anyway I returned from the bar with drinks to have one say to the other "Ask Liz - she'd know".

The question it transpired was "how can we make non-Christian friends?".

As I regarded this couple who do church meetings three times a week, play in a christian badminton club, volunteer for a christian charity etc etc, I found myself asking "why?"

To which they seemed taken aback.

And so we had the conversation - do you want to meet non-christians beacause you want to convert them or are you looking to break out of your christian ghetto and form some proper relationships with non-christians.

I think the very fact I raised such a thought convinced them of the fact I was more back-slidden then they could have possibly have feared ;-)

As I drained my vodka I began to suspect that within their heads the thought was running "aha! see we do know at least one lost soul..."

I do so love becoming somebody's project ;-)

jeff said...

I work in a sales environment. In fact, we're trained to be a friend to our prospects, so they'll feel like you truly care about them and their business. (Of course, after the sale, we never see them again...).

While this is effective (though shallow) in the business world, it does not work in the church, even though most churches are operating more like corporations than they are ministries...

My Pastor says, "People do not care what you know, until they know you care". For me, this is the essence of evangelism. No agendas. No ulterior motives. But a life lived open and free to be used.

That's what Jesus did. He loved people for who they were, as they were. They could tell He was different, though. Because a truly connected Christian will always represent the Father well (without having to manufacture the God-speak).

IMHO, the closer we get to God through prayer and His Word, the more we'll be available to be used by Him in purity and in truth.

I pray that's our desire.

Steve said...


i used to be an insurance salesman, i think i understand! loving people means not treating them like a target market. it also means in my expereince that i get chelenged by their spiritual journey as much as i hope mine offers things that may be attractive. when relationships are real we all get changed. my prayer is that those changes are to bring us all toward the person we are supposed to be, which is i believe in God's image.

Steve said...


thanks it looks as if the 1370 definaition may be close to linming the two? to move about being close to to turn about? i just couldn't help but see the similar lettrs and wonder!

Steve said...


great story ;o)

DaveF said...

converse / conversation - we need differeing views (viewpoints?) to make a conversation else it would be a "me too" fest?

Is it so wrong to look to make non christian friends for "a reason"? Wouldn't we only make "easy" friendships unless we made an effort? Obviously to make "a sale" & then move on is wrong but to befriend someone because you believe it will help them?

Andii said...

A handful of years back, I was leading a church and encouraging us to do things that were about 'relationship' evangelism; exhorting people to make friends with non-Christians with a view to goodnewsing them. Then I got to joining that up with what we were teaching about the nature of fellowship and loving others. Add to that the experience of being 'befriended' by muslims out to make me their latest dawa project, stir together and bake for a couple of months and I emerge the other side of the process feeling that if we are not prepared to befriend without strings attached (will the relationship survive their coming to faith -or not!- ?) then we shouldn't be doing this; we're just using people.

Having also watched an evangelist work their way through a number of friendships over the years where they tenden to lose the full-on interest once the person became Christian has also been an object lesson in integrity in this matter.

I'm at the point now where I would see the making of friends outside of the church as a human calling where occasionally our love for them will mean trying to articulate the hope within us for them. But making friends without valuing them as they are and being prepared to be loyal whether or not they follow Christ is a sin; we are not loving that neighbour as ourselves.

That's without prejudice to the question about whether Christians should get a life!

There's also a theological issue embedded in the thing about loving people as they are and not firstly because we want them to repent; It makes us realise that this is what it means that God 'first loved us'. Actually, the way a lot of evangelical praxis goes, we act as if we believe that God loves us only in order to change us - which pretty much comes out as a conditional love...

Andii said...

And while we're at it, you may find this sobering reading, I've a lot of sympathy...

Wol said...

Great site, great post! And absolutely crucial! I like David Bosch's contention that everything we do has an evangelical dimension even if not an evangelical intention. [contention/dimension/intention??? Unconscious, I promise! Is there another word in this list I ought to mention?]

In other words, evangelism is as much about the everyday interactions of relationship as specifically sharing thoughts about discipleship of Jesus.

I want people to be converted and become disciples of Jesus Christ. I don't do it because I want them to become church members, or because I have a "scalp list" of people I've saved from hell (I don't believe "saving souls" has anything to do with the right motive for evangelism). I want them to become disciples of Jesus because that is where to discover the Life of God. I'd hate them to miss out.

John Settatree said...

Hope you don't mind but I used a quote from this post in a course I run called E:merge equiping young people in relational evangelism. It fitted in perfectly with the course. If you'd rather I didn't use it in future I won't!

Byt the way I find the blog very helpful in looking at things in a fresh way.

Steve said...


happy for you to use it please if possible attribute it to me. wouls also really like to know how the course goes. soem good material for young people that starts to open up new ways of relating their faith to those arround them is needed.