All of us are born into the world as sinners, separated from God and under his wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3). But God still moves toward us. He does not leave us in our sins, but instead, loves us and makes a way for us to be reconciled to himself. As the apostle Paul writes, “God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” (Ephesians 2:4-5).
Because God moves towards us, we can move towards others.
What does moving towards other look like practically? Maybe a simple acronym can help flesh out what I mean when I talk about moving towards others. As Christians, we should W.A.L.K. towards others: Walk over to them, Ask them their name, Listen to them, and Keep them in mind during the week.
Walk Over to Others
One of the main commands given to the church is “Go!” (Matthew 28:19-20). Go means “go.” It means that we must go to others, not wait for them to come to us. Going involves walking. We must walk over to people we don’t know and engage them in conversation.
Ask Them Their Name
Asking someone their name might seem so blindingly obvious that it is pointless to mention. But there is deep theological significance to knowing someone’s name. God knows our name. And there is power is knowing and acknowledging someone’s name. So do whatever it takes to get good with names. Someone’s spiritual journey just might depend on it!
Listen to Them
Ed Welch shares an important thought-experiment in his book, Caring Well. He calls us to reflect on a time when we shared a difficulty or deep pain and no one acknowledged it. It hurts doesn’t it? Of course, it does. But listening opens up doors for care, as we are able to confronted with the joys and pains of life. Small talk matters because listening matters. And if we have open ears, we just might be surprised by what we hear from others, especially from those we don’t know well. What should we be listening for? One practical thing to listen for is the three NOTs: I’m not from around here, I’m not prepared for this, or things are not going well. Each of those three NOTs provides a context to share and invitation to church or a truth from Scripture.
Keep Them in Mind During the Week
We don’t want to just have a conversation and then let it drop. No. Try to keep the people you meet in mind during the week. This could happen by writing their names down in a note on your phone, putting them on your prayer list, or even having a reminder pop up on your phone later in the week. But keeping them in mind during the week provides a context for follow up conversation. How do you think people would feel if they entered our church a second time and someone knew their name, asked them how they were doing, and followed up with specific questions about their life?