A couple of years ago Martin Oldfield’s small group found themselves wondering what to do next for their study, when Martin jumped in with something he was keen to learn about.
“I said look to be honest, I’d like to know a bit about Islam, because the world is demonizing them and I’d like to know why, and the group said ‘Okay, let’s do it.’” says Martin.
Not being happy with the studies he found online, Martin did his own research for the group which they discussed, and through this process both he and the group gained a deeper understanding of their own faith, with Martin making a study guide to help his group and other Christians navigate the common questions against our faith today.
“Your mindset has got to flip. It’s not a case of going out and standing on a soapbox, that’s about the worst thing you can do,” says Martin. “it’s got to be total respect. If you come across as trying to convert, you’ll lose them, so it’s not about that. You’ve got to listen a lot.”
Not only have they discovered how to better have these inter-faith conversations, but they’ve also been challenged to have a more outward focused small group.
“Our home groups become fellowship groups, because we have a cup of tea and look at a book of the bible and we get really good at that book of the bible, and it’s a bit like reading a book on yoga and not doing yoga.” says Martin. “We’ve forgotten our purpose is to make disciples of all people, and we just become inward focused, and a lot of home groups fail because of that.”
Martin’s encouragement to people in the church is to just re-engage with your own faith, wrestle with these questions yourself, and have a go at these conversations.
“It’s about recognising and bringing front of mind ‘where’s my opportunity today?’ You have so many people in front of you, all you have to do is open the door, but it’s hard to open the door the first time you do it. But the more knowledge you’ve got behind you, the better chance you’ve got of being game to do it.”
If you are interested in this topic or would like to know more about Martin’s study guide, please contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org.