“Oh! The Bible!? I don’t like the Bible!”
These were the words spoken by a woman who came to my Trial Meeting. A Q Place Trial Meeting is the first meeting of a Q Place, where participants get to experience the group for the first time. It’s literally a trial—any potential participant can “try a Q Place” risk free, with no expectation to return. When the woman blurted out her remark, we all could’ve heard a pin drop. But because of my Q Place training, I knew questions were the best way to respond. So, I asked the woman, “Can you describe what just went on inside of you when you heard me say the word ‘Bible’?”
She paused, then said that she had actually never read it and didn’t know what it said. “But,” she added, “I lived near an uncle who, when I was seven years old, used the Bible as power over my family and he was so hateful that I have never wanted anything to do with God or church or the Bible.”
I responded, “I probably wouldn’t have wanted anything to do with the Bible either if a relative had treated me that way.”
After that, I saw this woman—and everyone in the room—visibly relax. Now they were starting to understand what a Q Place would be like.
This is thrilling for me—showing that in a Q Place, people can be honest about their spiritual struggles. I have found that when a person reacts strongly to a word or scriptural truth, there is often a story behind the strong statement. And before a person is ready to discover what the Bible says about God, I have to tread lightly.
Sherry A. Weddell expresses it this way in her book Forming Intentional Disciples:
“Individuals need a very safe, non-threatening way to express their thoughts or questions about God without overreaction or pressure from the Christian. It is very important to tread lightly. You can easily quench inquiries by drowning a teaspoon full of curiosity with a gallon of answers.”
“Unfortunately, enthusiastic Christians can squelch a person’s thirst with too many answers…especially if the answers are harsh or judgmental.”
The challenge for me–or for anyone who wants to enter into a spiritual conversation with those who believe differently–is simply to ask questions and listen with the compassion of Jesus. He showed us the way. In fact, in the four Gospels, Jesus asked 183 questions! What’s even more impressive is that He answered 307 questions with another question!
As Jesus says in John 16:8, it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to point to areas of need. I can trust that He will bring just the right amount of conviction at the right time—whether in an everyday conversation or in a Q Place.
Q Place Seattle Lead Catalyst