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Our pastor suggested for us to read Just Walk Across the Room by Bill Hybels and one part stuck out at me. He has a graph that shows the amount of interaction that people have with unbelievers and the years they have walking with Christ. After about 8 years of walking with Christ, people typically have no interaction with unbelievers. He then gives an illustration, but for now let me take my own life:

I listen to Christian radio and only watch certain movies. I typically homeschool my children during the day , so no interaction there. On Monday afternoons I go to vision therapy from a homeschool graduate, Christian girl. Once a month, I could attend CHEC full of Christian devotions and Christian interaction. On Tuesday evening once a month I attend my music ministry team meeting, once again: Christians. On Wednesday, I do co-op, piano lessons from a lady at our church, take dad on errands where I interact with the public in a superficial way. I do adult choir and praise team on Wednesday nights while Megan does AWANA and the boys do youth. On Thursday afternoons I take Megan to violin lessons with the interim music director at Oakland Heights. Now for 8 weeks in the fall and 8 weeks in the spring we do soccer. But practice is around the corner from my dad and I leave to do something for him. Most of the other parents leave as well or they are men. So that leaves games where you are really watching your children, but do talk a little to the other parents. The boys did do flag football, but once again: Christian homeschooled children. Then on Sunday we do services and then I direct a children’s choir in the evening. Once again, church members. So when I am asked to bring an unbeliever or my children are asked to bring a friend to church… WHO???

Bill Hybels says this in his book,

“ Instead of walking toward people who need God’s redemptive love, they step into a mode of no longer wanting anything to do with them. Self-proclaimed followers of Jesus Christ develp an aversion to nonbelievers, going to all lengths to avoid the exact people Christ came to redeem.

He then describes a day, much like the ones I have described above. Then he says: “And if I’m forced to nail it down, I see only one problem with this cocooning pattern: it is the polar opposite of the way of Christ. Simple and safe was not exactly the theme Christ was championing when he warned his followers that being sent out as lambs among wolves was part of the deal. “Spotless and uncluttered†had no place in the task of embracing a dying, broken, weary world with radical forgiveness and actionable love.â€

This has just convicted me so much and so I ask, how do you cultivate relationships with nonbelievers?? How do we do that? To be honest, I’m not sure how. But I’m praying. If any of you have any ideas, then let me know.

Christine

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I want to say right off that I think it's absolutely wonderful that you're examining this aspect of your life. I have met a lot of Christians who are very insular and who cannot seem to fathom the idea that others may not share their worldview. And I've never thought that was healthy.

 

One thing I might suggest, though, is to stop referring to other people as "unbelievers" or "nonbelievers." The truth is that there are lots of people who may not believe what you believe, but do believe something. And to refer to them with those words is kind of insulting.

 

I do understand that, from the conservative Christian view, theirs is the only true belief, but I always thought humility was part of the package. And I think that most of us who are on the other side of the fence would appreciate a little respect.

 

I also have to say that I don't think you're going to have a lot of success widening your social circle if you're doing so solely or mostly for the purpose of witnessing to the rest of us. I do think your life (and those of your children) would be richer if you had contact with more different kinds of people, but most "nonbelievers" I know would be a lot more likely to welcome you into our lives if we don't feel like you're the lamb and we're the wolves.

 

I hope none of that sounds harsh. I honestly do not intend for it to do so, but I don't seem to be having a lot of success lately making my intentions or emotions terribly clear around here. (I'm still feeling a little tender about another recent exchange.) I do really, truly admire your goal of having more contact with a more diverse group of people. I'm just trying to help you see things from the other side so that you don't accidentally cause any hard feelings when you venture out.

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This has just convicted me so much and so I ask, how do you cultivate relationships with nonbelievers?? How do we do that? To be honest, I’m not sure how. But I’m praying. If any of you have any ideas, then let me know.

Christine

 

You need to go to events/activities that are not aimed at Christians. I am a member of a non-church choir. There is a full range of Christian belief (including two ordained ministers), other faiths and non-belief. Now, if you intend to proselytise, rather than making friends, I suspect that that would not be welcome within such an organisation.

 

Best wishes

 

Laura

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About 3 years ago, we watched the video series of that. I got good things out of some of it and didn't out of some. My life is like yours, much like yours. The kids and I are in the process of getting involved with CEF, and my ultimate desire would be to get involved with the Good News clubs in the ps system here. I helped this week and was so impressed!! The Gospel was presented so clearly, and these kids were having a blast...this was not dull to them but life-changing. These were kids in a lower-income school system that is known to be in the drug area of town...the town we live near is known for drugs and gangs. These were really well-behaved, sweet kids, and I could see the impact this had on them, and I could see the heart-felt love the leaders had for them. There were 30, and one of the leaders told me that all of them but a few had believed in Christ, and I saw one little boy living out his convictions. I just see that I need to get involved in these types of things. I really want my children doing them too...it is easy to be hidden away here.

 

Teresa

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I agree, it is hard. My life is like that and has been since I had children. The exception now is 4-H. It is not a strictly Christian community like most of my other social interactions have been and I'm happy for that.

 

Right now, I am in focused on just a few people that I pray for and ask God to give me chances to share with: a very close 4-H familiy, my neighbor ( I only have one - we live on a farm) and believe it or not, my own son and his girlfriend. My son said "the prayer" at the age of 9, but has fallen away and his girlfriend of 2 years is NOT a Christian.

 

As a mom, I have never been too worried that I am not surounded by non believers and oportunities to share my faith. I have always thought that raising my children was my main responsibility and my own kids were the ones I should focus on teaching about Christ. My husband has always had his work and has shared many times with people there.

 

However, I have done two things over the years to make sure I am exposed to oportunities to share. ( not saying this is enough - I should have done more) I have gone on several short term missions trips. And I have prayed. And believe you me, praying works.

 

Years ago, one evening when I was doing my personal quiet time, I was actually struck by this very thought. I was so over joyed with gratitute to the Lord for what he had done for me that I WANTED to tell someone! But I could think of no one to tell. So I asked Him. I said, "I don't KNOW anyone who doesn't know you. So please, Lord, YOU provide me with some one to tell!" This was about 11:00 pm. THE NEXT MORING, 8:00 AM, I got a knock on my kitchen door from the girl who lived upstairs in our two-flat. I had never "met" her, but we had exchanged greetings upon passing a few times. Apparently, she had often heard me singing in my kitchen and on THIS morning decided to talk to me about it. I opened my kitchen door and she said, "I just have to know, why are you so happy all the time?"

 

Wow! I stammered a few seconds with my jaw hanging open and then invited her in and shared the Gospel with her. You know what? I never spoke to her again. She moved out just weeks later. But I certainly know that on that day, I was SUPPOSED to tell her about Jesus.

 

So I would say, just PRAY. Pray for oportunities and they WILL come. No doubt about it.

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I want to say right off that I think it's absolutely wonderful that you're examining this aspect of your life. I have met a lot of Christians who are very insular and who cannot seem to fathom the idea that others may not share their worldview. And I've never thought that was healthy.

 

One thing I might suggest, though, is to stop referring to other people as "unbelievers" or "nonbelievers." The truth is that there are lots of people who may not believe what you believe, but do believe something. And to refer to them with those words is kind of insulting.

 

I do understand that, from the conservative Christian view, theirs is the only true belief, but I always thought humility was part of the package. And I think that most of us who are on the other side of the fence would appreciate a little respect.

 

I also have to say that I don't think you're going to have a lot of success widening your social circle if you're doing so solely or mostly for the purpose of witnessing to the rest of us. I do think your life (and those of your children) would be richer if you had contact with more different kinds of people, but most "nonbelievers" I know would be a lot more likely to welcome you into our lives if we don't feel like you're the lamb and we're the wolves.

 

I hope none of that sounds harsh. I honestly do not intend for it to do so, but I don't seem to be having a lot of success lately making my intentions or emotions terribly clear around here. (I'm still feeling a little tender about another recent exchange.) I do really, truly admire your goal of having more contact with a more diverse group of people. I'm just trying to help you see things from the other side so that you don't accidentally cause any hard feelings when you venture out.

 

:iagree: I think that you worded this perfectly. You expressed my thoughts exactly and probably much better than I could have done myself. Thanks so much because I really think that this needed addressed and I didn't know if I was up to the task of doing so. It would have required much deep thought on my part and would have taken me hours to have composed it half as well as you did.

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:iagree: I think that you worded this perfectly. You expressed my thoughts exactly and probably much better than I could have done myself. Thanks so much because I really think that this needed addressed and I didn't know if I was up to the task of doing so. It would have required much deep thought on my part and would have taken me hours to have composed it half as well as you did.

 

Aw, thanks. I really, really needed that!

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I hope none of that sounds harsh. I honestly do not intend for it to do so, but I don't seem to be having a lot of success lately making my intentions or emotions terribly clear around here. (I'm still feeling a little tender about another recent exchange.) I do really, truly admire your goal of having more contact with a more diverse group of people. I'm just trying to help you see things from the other side so that you don't accidentally cause any hard feelings when you venture out.

 

Jenny,

 

Oh, no I do not think it sounds harsh at all. To be honest, I'm not the share the 4 steps of salvation type. I'm a love and serve and maybe they will see things my way. I hate those canned presentations. My dad was a nonbeliever for a long time and it was only when he came to live with us and when other members of my church loved him for him: built him a ramp, etc. with no thought of what they would get in return that he made the decision to get baptized. He always thought my answered prayers were just accidents and church people were hypocritical. He REALLy likes our pastor because he is REAL... I don't know how to explain it, but he helps us get out of our comfort zone. We are part of a group of East Texas churches that are helping Buckner in Ethiopia. Dh, my son and I got to take a trip with our pastor and others there. WOW.. It really opened my eyes as well.

 

Christine

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As far as children go, I dont think that they necessarily need to be with nonbelievers at this age. They are still growing and learning their faith. They can be easily swayed. I'm not saying to keep them away from nonbelievers LOL.....just that if it does not happen, then that's okay. It is hard for kids to be a witness when they are still just "baby" Christians.

 

As for yourself, like someone else mentioned, just pray. God WILL provide you with someone to share your faith with if you ask. It may not be today or tomorrow, but when you make yourself open and willing before God, he will steer you in the direction he wants you to go.

 

It is interesting that you are contemplating this part of your life though. I've never thought about it like that. And I think it is good to reevaluate these parts of your life at times. Much like you, I dont have too much interaction with nonbelievers. I sit at dance class for an hour while my daughter has dance practice. And I sit at soccer for an hour as well, but like you mentioned, everyone is watching their children. Plus, I am an extremely shy person. I do not just come out and talk to people that I dont know. So this is another obstacle that I have to work with when witnessing.

 

To Jenny In Florida.....I'm just wondering what other term we should use besides nonbelievers? Our belief and teachings are that if you do not believe that God died and rose again to save us, then you are a nonbeliever. Maybe we should say "those who believe differently." But that's long and drawn out. The term nonbeliever is not meant to be an offensive term....it just is what it is.

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To Jenny In Florida.....I'm just wondering what other term we should use besides nonbelievers? Our belief and teachings are that if you do not believe that God died and rose again to save us, then you are a nonbeliever. Maybe we should say "those who believe differently." But that's long and drawn out. The term nonbeliever is not meant to be an offensive term....it just is what it is.

 

Honestly, I don't want to ignore you, but I don't feel comfortable getting into this too deeply. Not right now.

 

All I can say is that, while "those who believe differently" may be a mouthful, it's much more accurate and respectful than "nonbelievers." I don't believe what you believe, but I believe what I believe very deeply and sincerely. And words like "nonbelievers" just put up barriers.

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I want to say right off that I think it's absolutely wonderful that you're examining this aspect of your life. I have met a lot of Christians who are very insular and who cannot seem to fathom the idea that others may not share their worldview. And I've never thought that was healthy.

 

One thing I might suggest, though, is to stop referring to other people as "unbelievers" or "nonbelievers." The truth is that there are lots of people who may not believe what you believe, but do believe something. And to refer to them with those words is kind of insulting.

 

I do understand that, from the conservative Christian view, theirs is the only true belief, but I always thought humility was part of the package. And I think that most of us who are on the other side of the fence would appreciate a little respect.

 

I also have to say that I don't think you're going to have a lot of success widening your social circle if you're doing so solely or mostly for the purpose of witnessing to the rest of us. I do think your life (and those of your children) would be richer if you had contact with more different kinds of people, but most "nonbelievers" I know would be a lot more likely to welcome you into our lives if we don't feel like you're the lamb and we're the wolves.

 

I hope none of that sounds harsh. I honestly do not intend for it to do so, but I don't seem to be having a lot of success lately making my intentions or emotions terribly clear around here. (I'm still feeling a little tender about another recent exchange.) I do really, truly admire your goal of having more contact with a more diverse group of people. I'm just trying to help you see things from the other side so that you don't accidentally cause any hard feelings when you venture out.

 

:iagree::iagree:

 

Beautifully and very accurately said Jenny. Thank you!

 

:grouphug::grouphug:

 

Jenny,

 

Oh, no I do not think it sounds harsh at all. To be honest, I'm not the share the 4 steps of salvation type. I'm a love and serve and maybe they will see things my way. I hate those canned presentations. My dad was a nonbeliever for a long time and it was only when he came to live with us and when other members of my church loved him for him: built him a ramp, etc. with no thought of what they would get in return that he made the decision to get baptized. He always thought my answered prayers were just accidents and church people were hypocritical. He REALLy likes our pastor because he is REAL... I don't know how to explain it, but he helps us get out of our comfort zone. We are part of a group of East Texas churches that are helping Buckner in Ethiopia. Dh, my son and I got to take a trip with our pastor and others there. WOW.. It really opened my eyes as well.

 

Christine

 

Thank you for not being a "4 steps of salvation type". Personally I am much more impressed and likely to engage with people who live their faith rather than preach it. Not going to change my mind on my own beliefs but I am not going to run screaming from you if you do engage in a discussion of beliefs :D

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As far as children go, I dont think that they necessarily need to be with nonbelievers at this age. They are still growing and learning their faith. They can be easily swayed. I'm not saying to keep them away from nonbelievers LOL.....just that if it does not happen, then that's okay. It is hard for kids to be a witness when they are still just "baby" Christians.

 

I hear you- I didn't want my kids to spend too much time around christians when they were young either ;). (I wasn't worried about them being swayed, though- I was worried about them telling the Christian kids there was no god, and the parents not letting the kids near us again.)

 

 

To Jenny In Florida.....I'm just wondering what other term we should use besides nonbelievers? Our belief and teachings are that if you do not believe that God died and rose again to save us, then you are a nonbeliever. Maybe we should say "those who believe differently." But that's long and drawn out. The term nonbeliever is not meant to be an offensive term....it just is what it is.

 

I prefer non-Christian. I think that's what you mean anyway. I do have very strong ethical beliefs, I just believe in one less god than you.

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Does your church have any out-reaching ministries? food pantry? clothes closet?

 

Do you shop at a grocery store? Ever try praying for you checker as you wait in line?

 

Do you take your dc to the park to play? That's a great place to build a friendship.

 

Does you library have a librarian?

 

Do you have neighbors?

 

Just talk to people as you go about your day, and pray for God to give you an opportunity to share.:001_smile:

 

 

...and thanks Jenny for the reminder that we shouldn't talk about people who aren't Christians like they aren't in the room here. I totally get why the term "nonbeliever" is offensive!

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“ Instead of walking toward people who need God’s redemptive love, they step into a mode of no longer wanting anything to do with them. Self-proclaimed followers of Jesus Christ develp an aversion to nonbelievers, going to all lengths to avoid the exact people Christ came to redeem.

 

 

I've never heard of this book but I've shared this same thought for years. Especially at a time in my life when I really, really needed someone to walk and talk with me. And this was in a megachurch.

 

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved the busy energy atmosphere of that church. It made me want to get swept up like everyone else was. But I didn't receive alot of help in the journey. I was not totally transitioned to the way the women around me were thinking. I still had questionable opinions and thoughts. So I was snubbed. I was going at it alone. I tried to fit in. I became a sunday school teacher to little kids, a leader in awana, a helper in children's choir. I tried getting involved in the homeschool ministry as much as they'd let me. But I was working super hard climbing a mountain with a promised paradise at the top, only to keep falling short.

 

And then we moved, and I had zero motivation to try a new church for over 2 years. When I did, the experience was totally indifferent. I felt no inspiration. After even more time of living with a family of atheists, including my dd11 who was baptised in said megachurch, and watching local (and online) Christians do and say things that absolutely astound me, I've lost all faith. For quite a while, I called myself a Christian who had issues with the Bible. Now, I have no label for myself.

 

I see no love and compassion shared by Christians. I see an affluent society where status is most important. I'm trying to say it's like a tiered society where people are constantly working to reach the top just so they can be above someone else. And how the members of one tier don't associate with the members of another tier. There doesn't seem to be anything religious in religion at all. And it's sad for me really, because I feel I need religion in my life. This past year without any religion has made me feel like my life is absolutely meaningless. Why bother doing great things or thinking great thoughts when death comes to everyone, and it puts an end to life?

 

Now I need to go journal. I've got some deep thoughts running around in my head. :)

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A couple of things.

 

About the term "non-believers". I agree that in "mixed" company, it probably should not be used. In a conversation among Born again Christians it just refers to someone who has not been born again and is not a Christ follower. No offense is meant really, but I do agree now, that it sounds arrogant when used in a conversation that includes people of all views which this is.

 

( Not criticizing anyone, I used it myself.)

 

About prosteletizing, that is not at all what I was talking about in my post. As a Christian, I believe it is my privelage to be in relationships with "those who believe differently" :D and then, when asked, take the opportunity to share what I beleive. Weather the individual decides to become a Christ follower is up to God, not me.

 

For example: I mentioned my friendship with a 4-H family. We are very close with this family and spend a lot of time together. I have never presented "the laws of salvation" to any of them in 4 years. ( I used that phrase facetiously. :D) I am determined to be the best friend I can be to this family. They know we are Christians and that Christ is the most important thing in our life because we talk about it openly in reference to our own lives. If any of them want to know exactly what I believe, I will gladly share it when they ask. If I feel that God has presented a specific situation in which sharing the Gospel with them would be apropriate, I would ask THEM if it was alright for me to share. I do pray for an opportunity to share my faith with them. This is how I would opperate within ANY relationship I had with someone who believed differently then me. :001_smile:

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I want to say right off that I think it's absolutely wonderful that you're examining this aspect of your life. I have met a lot of Christians who are very insular and who cannot seem to fathom the idea that others may not share their worldview. And I've never thought that was healthy.

 

One thing I might suggest, though, is to stop referring to other people as "unbelievers" or "nonbelievers." The truth is that there are lots of people who may not believe what you believe, but do believe something. And to refer to them with those words is kind of insulting.

 

I do understand that, from the conservative Christian view, theirs is the only true belief, but I always thought humility was part of the package. And I think that most of us who are on the other side of the fence would appreciate a little respect.

 

I also have to say that I don't think you're going to have a lot of success widening your social circle if you're doing so solely or mostly for the purpose of witnessing to the rest of us. I do think your life (and those of your children) would be richer if you had contact with more different kinds of people, but most "nonbelievers" I know would be a lot more likely to welcome you into our lives if we don't feel like you're the lamb and we're the wolves.

I hope none of that sounds harsh. I honestly do not intend for it to do so, but I don't seem to be having a lot of success lately making my intentions or emotions terribly clear around here. (I'm still feeling a little tender about another recent exchange.) I do really, truly admire your goal of having more contact with a more diverse group of people. I'm just trying to help you see things from the other side so that you don't accidentally cause any hard feelings when you venture out.

 

Great post, Jenny. I agree with everything you said, especially the bolded part.

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Jenny,

 

Oh, no I do not think it sounds harsh at all. To be honest, I'm not the share the 4 steps of salvation type. I'm a love and serve and maybe they will see things my way. I hate those canned presentations. My dad was a nonbeliever for a long time and it was only when he came to live with us and when other members of my church loved him for him: built him a ramp, etc. with no thought of what they would get in return that he made the decision to get baptized. He always thought my answered prayers were just accidents and church people were hypocritical. He REALLy likes our pastor because he is REAL... I don't know how to explain it, but he helps us get out of our comfort zone. We are part of a group of East Texas churches that are helping Buckner in Ethiopia. Dh, my son and I got to take a trip with our pastor and others there. WOW.. It really opened my eyes as well.

 

Christine

 

Christine, I think you have a good attitude. I think if you go about this as making friends with people who are not in your usual crowd, you may develop some very rewarding friendships.

 

One of my best friends is a very devout Christian (I'm an atheist). We have great philosophical conversations. It's interesting that we live our lives so much the same, and our life philosophies are so similar- yet on the surface our beliefs appear to be polar opposites. We have each learned so much from each other.

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To Jenny In Florida.....I'm just wondering what other term we should use besides nonbelievers? Our belief and teachings are that if you do not believe that God died and rose again to save us, then you are a nonbeliever. Maybe we should say "those who believe differently." But that's long and drawn out. The term nonbeliever is not meant to be an offensive term....it just is what it is.

 

So by your definition, Jews are nonbelievers and yet your very Bible says they God's chosen people. It's inconsistencies like that which make it hard for me, and perhaps others, to believe the Bible is truth. Just sharing my nonbelieving thoughts. :)

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Well, I think it's what you are open to. Sure, I want my kids to have Christian friends, but guess what? Our best friends are not. And it works b/c we both respect each other. :-)

 

I put my kids in the Christian soccer league. The kids were bad mouthed. I coached basketball in the Christian league. The other team's had non believer coaches and the kids trash talked. I bet my kids would have had the same experience at the Rec league.

 

We do meet and interact with non believers all the time. I think both sides have to be open though. If I wasn't friends with people based on their religion how does that look to them? A believer who refuses to be friends based on religion....so much like when people still considered skin color...

 

I can't say I would see out a person who wants to change my kids. I don't try to change other's. my kids are involved with Awanas and they want them to bring friends twice a year. We did once. But honestly, I would rather have the friendship and live by example than try to convert people. God woo's who he is going to(don't argue theology with me, it's my beliefs). Live your life and know that Jesus walked among the untouchables. Don't wall yourself up with other believers. Get out and discover new friends. Both sides have to be respectful though. Someone making fun of your beliefs won't work. You telling them where they will be one day isn't fair. When both sides want to share those aspects, then do so. But if it never comes up, then it's ok to just be friends.

 

I treasure my non believing friend. I pray for her too. We have respect for each other and probably bite our tongues. But it's at the point I can say how I see God working in my life and not get a sarcastic remark ;-) I can't imagine life without my faith. But I haven't felt called to preach to them. I have felt only to be friends. If God wants to woo them to Him, He will. And if I am part of that one day, then I am. But I don't think about that. I just enjoy the friendship.

 

I still have Christian friends. I think you can have both. My experience.

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I prefer non-Christian. I think that's what you mean anyway. I do have very strong ethical beliefs, I just believe in one less god than you.

 

:iagree: nonchristian, or perhaps non(insert demoninatin here), would be better.

 

to the OP: I admire the thoughtfulness you're putting into moving out of the path you've been in for a while (rut?). I would only caution that you approach everyone with an attitude of friendship (as opposed to conversion potential), and remember not all who are unchurched or nonchristian are uninformed as to what christianity is. Most who have had any contact with any form of christianity can see a conversion attempt a mile away and you may miss out on a very fulfilling friendship encounter because of being blinded by a need to convert. If your motives are pure conversion, I suggest a missions trip, where the motive is advertised in advance. If your motive is to truly become more like Jesus, then I suggest simply trying to widen your circle, be nice to everyone, do good deeds without following them up with specifically-designed phrases, and live your life as an example of what you believe. Don't rule out a friendship based on religion or preconceived ideas of what "nonchristian" means.

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Interesting that you should mention this. Last night at worship rehearsal, our leader told us a sad story. That day, her husband who is the assoc. pastor of our church was alone in the church when a man walked in. Not your typical "church goer"...this guy had tatoos all up and down his arms, nose ring, biker clothes. He was a former Hell's Angel. He proceeded to tell our assoc. pastor his story. 15yrs. a Hell's Angel, rough life, did lots of "not so good" things, etc. 11 wks. prior he had been shot and while in the hospital gave his life to Christ after a nurse witnessed to him. He left his hometown to find a place where there wasn't a big Hell's Angel contingency. He visited about 3 churches in our area and NONE (I repeat, NONE) accepted him. One even told him to go to the inner-city where he might "fit in" better! This man was broken and desperate to find the love and acceptance that Jesus spoke of in the Bible. He wanted to change his life but nobody would accept him "as is". So, he came in to our suburban, middle-class church to tell his story. He said our church seemed "different", but that for him...it was too late. He was boarding a plan in 3 hours to go back to his hometown and rejoin the Hell's Angels. At least there...he was accepted and loved. Isn't that sad? I just cried when she told that story. As Christians, it is our duty to spread the love of Jesus. Not to judge, not to condemn, not to force feed people some religious mantra. LOVE. We are all sinners. We are all broken people looking for love and acceptance. Period. I'm grateful and forever thankful that Christ died for me. It's the most wonderful gift. But, it's not just for me. It is for everybody. My sins are many, but Christ's death and resurrection on that cross at Calvary wiped them all away. What a gift! What freedom! What LOVE! Anyway...great post. Necessary wake up call for us all. People are people. Period. No matter what their "faith".

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As Christians, it is our duty to spread the love of Jesus. Not to judge, not to condemn, not to force feed people some religious mantra. LOVE. We are all sinners. We are all broken people looking for love and acceptance. Period. I'm grateful and forever thankful that Christ died for me. It's the most wonderful gift. But, it's not just for me. It is for everybody. My sins are many, but Christ's death and resurrection on that cross at Calvary wiped them all away. What a gift! What freedom! What LOVE! Anyway...great post. Necessary wake up call for us all. People are people. Period. No matter what their "faith".

 

What a lovely post. Thank you for sharing those thoughts. I'm sure a lot of us "nonbelievers" would be much more comfortable with Christians if they were all as accepting as you are.

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how do you cultivate relationships with nonbelievers??

 

Well, first, you stop calling us nonbelievers. That's really insulting. I believe something, it's just not the same thing you believe.

 

And I would add, if you want to cultivate a relationship with me just so you can try to convert me, thanks but no thanks, kwim? I have spent my life having people try to convert me, and that's also really insulting. I know about Christianity and Jesus. I have chosen another religion. I won't proselytize to you, because I respect your ability and intelligence to choose what you believe. Please extend me the same courtesy.

 

Tara

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When my dc were young, they did 4-H, ballet, Highland dance, soccer, and marching band. These were all community activities, not church or homeschool activities, and we met *lots* of un-churched people. Later, I did Scottish country dance, and was on the board of the South Bay Scottish Society for many years. I also took clogging and fencing classes. I'm currently on the board of the Austin Girls' Choir.

 

So I guess I would have to say that much of my time is spent with non-Christians. It isn't something I planned on purpose, and I am still involved with church and other Christian organizations, but I'm certainly not insulated from the world. One of my closest friends is not a Christian; I hope that I'm a good witness to her, and to others.

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I want to say right off that I think it's absolutely wonderful that you're examining this aspect of your life. I have met a lot of Christians who are very insular and who cannot seem to fathom the idea that others may not share their worldview. And I've never thought that was healthy.

 

One thing I might suggest, though, is to stop referring to other people as "unbelievers" or "nonbelievers." The truth is that there are lots of people who may not believe what you believe, but do believe something. And to refer to them with those words is kind of insulting.

 

I do understand that, from the conservative Christian view, theirs is the only true belief, but I always thought humility was part of the package. And I think that most of us who are on the other side of the fence would appreciate a little respect.

 

I also have to say that I don't think you're going to have a lot of success widening your social circle if you're doing so solely or mostly for the purpose of witnessing to the rest of us. I do think your life (and those of your children) would be richer if you had contact with more different kinds of people, but most "nonbelievers" I know would be a lot more likely to welcome you into our lives if we don't feel like you're the lamb and we're the wolves.

 

I hope none of that sounds harsh. I honestly do not intend for it to do so, but I don't seem to be having a lot of success lately making my intentions or emotions terribly clear around here. (I'm still feeling a little tender about another recent exchange.) I do really, truly admire your goal of having more contact with a more diverse group of people. I'm just trying to help you see things from the other side so that you don't accidentally cause any hard feelings when you venture out.

 

Thank you for stating that with such clarity and charity. Well done.

 

Janet

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Honestly, I don't want to ignore you, but I don't feel comfortable getting into this too deeply. Not right now.

 

All I can say is that, while "those who believe differently" may be a mouthful, it's much more accurate and respectful than "nonbelievers." I don't believe what you believe, but I believe what I believe very deeply and sincerely. And words like "nonbelievers" just put up barriers.

 

I understand what you are saying, but I wanted to add that I have heard people of other faith refer to those outside of their faith as "unbeliever," and I always assumed it meant not believing in the faith the other has. It is common sense that we all believe in something. Aside from Jesus, I believe in truth, justice, hard work and many other things.

 

I don't have any less respect for someone outside of my faith than I do inside of my faith, and I think it would be best to assume this of Christians rather than assume the opposite. It would probably make you less edgy regarding Christians. I know hurts occur, and people are not perfect, but I am learning that it is best to try to view people and situations through fresh lenses rather than through lenses of past issues.

Edited by nestof3
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So by your definition, Jews are nonbelievers and yet your very Bible says they God's chosen people. It's inconsistencies like that which make it hard for me, and perhaps others, to believe the Bible is truth. Just sharing my nonbelieving thoughts. :)

 

The Bible does reveal that the Israelites are God's chosen people, and it also states that the Israelites/Jews (as a nation or people group) rejected Jesus as their Messiah. So a people group who is chosen can also be unbelieving...a theme which crops up a lot in the Old Testament stories of Israel as well.

 

This is exactly why I think it's important to talk to one another (Christian, non-Christian, or otherwise) about the Bible. It's a fascinating book on so many levels, and can make for really wonderful conversations with all sorts of folks.

 

My family really enjoys our church, but we also choose extra curricular activities that are broad & community based. Not to get 'witnessing' notches in our belts (ick), but to meet new people and make friends. Our faith is such a part of our lives, that it always eventually comes up in conversation. Now, we're from the Bible Belt, so everybody down here either believes something or believes that 'good people go to heaven, and I'm a good guy'. So talking about the Bible is usually where we end up.

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With so many household duties, homeschooling, etc., I honestly don't spend much time with people in general, but I try to make every encounter count in some way, and not necessarily in a "religious" way, if you know what I mean.

 

I try to show kindness to the cashier and people in line in the grocery store -- I tend to converse a little, especially if the person seems to be having a hard day. I give lots of eye contact and smiles to food servers, etc. and tip well. I try to be helpful to those in my path -- to answer questions and provide resources.

 

I try to get to know people at swim practice and other events. I don't really think about their belief system -- I just try to spread kindness and friendship. I also have a very good friend since junior high that is not a Christian that I spend time with. I don't try to win her over or anything. I will share how my faith affects me, but I ultimately believe that God will be the one to draw her.

 

I'm also always looking for ways to learn from others regardless of faith. My aforementioned friend has so much patience -- I'm always trying to learn from her. :)

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I understand what you are saying, but I wanted to add that I have heard people of other faith refer to those outside of their faith as "unbeliever," and I always assumed it meant not believing in the faith the other has. It is common sense that we all believe in something.

 

I don't have any less respect for someone outside of my faith than I do inside of my faith, and I think it would be best to assume this of Christians rather than assume the opposite. It would probably make you less edgy regarding Christians. I know hurts occur, and people are not perfect, but I am learning that it is best to try to view people and situations through fresh lenses rather than through lenses of past issues.

 

I know that this kind of terminology is common among people of many faiths. I don't think it's right anywhere, but it came up here in the specific context of Christianity.

 

Just to clarify: We actually have quite a bit of contact with Christians and count many among our friends. My kids sing with a choir sponsored by a Christian church, for example, and we spend quite a lot of time with those folks, who are some of the nicest people we know, although they do have a tendency to assume that everyone agrees with them about religion and politics. We also end up going to their services several times a year because the choir is singing.

 

And, frankly, living in the part of the country in which I live--and particularly being a homeschooler in this area--it would not be possible to have any social contact at all if we were "edgy" about Christians in general.

 

My discomfort these days is specifically with the "brand" of Christianity often expressed here, and the issue is still very fresh for me.

Edited by Jenny in Florida
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I think it would be rather dull to only engage with like minded people all the time. Its hard to grow that way. Good for you for broadening your horizons.

 

ROTFLOL! Don't kid yourself-- Christians aren't exactly all that "like minded" outside a belief in God/ Christ, and even those similarities have severe doctrinal differences. :lol:

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would be uncomfortable with Christ Himself if He walked into a room with them. Iy makes me think of the song by Casting Crowns that says something like "my Jesus would never be accepted in my church; the blood on His hands and feet might stain the carpet."

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Our pastor suggested for us to read Just Walk Across the Room by Bill Hybels and one part stuck out at me. He has a graph that shows the amount of interaction that people have with unbelievers and the years they have walking with Christ. After about 8 years of walking with Christ, people typically have no interaction with unbelievers. He then gives an illustration, but for now let me take my own life:

I listen to Christian radio and only watch certain movies. I typically homeschool my children during the day , so no interaction there. On Monday afternoons I go to vision therapy from a homeschool graduate, Christian girl. Once a month, I could attend CHEC full of Christian devotions and Christian interaction. On Tuesday evening once a month I attend my music ministry team meeting, once again: Christians. On Wednesday, I do co-op, piano lessons from a lady at our church, take dad on errands where I interact with the public in a superficial way. I do adult choir and praise team on Wednesday nights while Megan does AWANA and the boys do youth. On Thursday afternoons I take Megan to violin lessons with the interim music director at Oakland Heights. Now for 8 weeks in the fall and 8 weeks in the spring we do soccer. But practice is around the corner from my dad and I leave to do something for him. Most of the other parents leave as well or they are men. So that leaves games where you are really watching your children, but do talk a little to the other parents. The boys did do flag football, but once again: Christian homeschooled children. Then on Sunday we do services and then I direct a children’s choir in the evening. Once again, church members. So when I am asked to bring an unbeliever or my children are asked to bring a friend to church… WHO???

Bill Hybels says this in his book,

“ Instead of walking toward people who need God’s redemptive love, they step into a mode of no longer wanting anything to do with them. Self-proclaimed followers of Jesus Christ develp an aversion to nonbelievers, going to all lengths to avoid the exact people Christ came to redeem.

He then describes a day, much like the ones I have described above. Then he says: “And if I’m forced to nail it down, I see only one problem with this cocooning pattern: it is the polar opposite of the way of Christ. Simple and safe was not exactly the theme Christ was championing when he warned his followers that being sent out as lambs among wolves was part of the deal. “Spotless and uncluttered†had no place in the task of embracing a dying, broken, weary world with radical forgiveness and actionable love.â€

This has just convicted me so much and so I ask, how do you cultivate relationships with nonbelievers?? How do we do that? To be honest, I’m not sure how. But I’m praying. If any of you have any ideas, then let me know.

Christine

 

Yes and Amen to this poster and this post!

 

Non-believer/un-believer makes me cringe a smidge (or alot, depending on the circumstance. It's right up there with "in the world" or "worldly").

When Jesus walked the earth, he did not hang out with the "proper, religious folks." He made His entry into the world via a young couple hardly heralded as something special.

 

If I had to choose between hanging out with Christians for the rest of my life or folks who had no Jesus-grid/no idea that they were created for the pleasure of God, well . . . there wouldn't be any choice. The Kingdom comes in powerful ways and convinces people that there is in fact, a God, an Amazing God.

 

I choose to be in relationship with all sorts of folks who have never graced a church building (and by their own admission, never will) but the process of loving people and being in a trusted relationship is worth every ounce of energy. It's real living - it's bringing the Kingdom to those that need it most. I do that by being open, accessible, non-judgemental . . . it's always a give and take. What do I have to receive from this person as well as what do I have to offer. True relationship benefits both parties.

 

Soap box, ahhhhhhhhhhhh - forgive me. I have such passion for sharing my life for no other reason than I belive we're called to walk justly and kindly with all . . . the Holy Spirit is always always wooing people to Himself. I love playing along.

 

T

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I agree w/ Jenny in Florida and ChristusG:

feel free to reach out to serve, but do be careful about making your goal to drag 'em in to church ;)

 

and depending on your children's ages and personalities, this might not be the right season for you to stop doing what you've been doing. Some kids/ families do better training for a secure foundation in a sheltered environment, then being gradually released to the wild :D

 

We interact w/ a LOT of non-Christians, but that works well for us. We have been blessed by their friendships in many ways too :)

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To Jenny In Florida.....I'm just wondering what other term we should use besides nonbelievers? Our belief and teachings are that if you do not believe that God died and rose again to save us, then you are a nonbeliever. Maybe we should say "those who believe differently." But that's long and drawn out. The term nonbeliever is not meant to be an offensive term....it just is what it is.

 

Not Jenny but Non-Christians is just as simple and much more respectful. :)

Edited by KidsHappen
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Yes and Amen to this poster and this post!

 

Non-believer/un-believer makes me cringe a smidge (or alot, depending on the circumstance. It's right up there with "in the world" or "worldly").

When Jesus walked the earth, he did not hang out with the "proper, religious folks." He made His entry into the world via a young couple hardly heralded as something special.

 

If I had to choose between hanging out with Christians for the rest of my life or folks who had no Jesus-grid/no idea that they were created for the pleasure of God, well . . . there wouldn't be any choice. The Kingdom comes in powerful ways and convinces people that there is in fact, a God, an Amazing God.

 

I choose to be in relationship with all sorts of folks who have never graced a church building (and by their own admission, never will) but the process of loving people and being in a trusted relationship is worth every ounce of energy. It's real living - it's bringing the Kingdom to those that need it most. I do that by being open, accessible, non-judgemental . . . it's always a give and take. What do I have to receive from this person as well as what do I have to offer. True relationship benefits both parties.

 

Soap box, ahhhhhhhhhhhh - forgive me. I have such passion for sharing my life for no other reason than I belive we're called to walk justly and kindly with all . . . the Holy Spirit is always always wooing people to Himself. I love playing along.

 

T

 

Not disagreeing, just commenting on a few thoughts from your post.

 

The concept of "worldly" comes from the admonition to be in the world but not of the world. This can mean all sorts of things, and most Christians give it some thought -- the trying to be unstained by the world.

 

Jesus was the most loving and most kind, but he was still judgmental -- in the scriptural sense (not the current sense of judging harshly). He had no problem calling sin "sin." Sometimes He was clever in the telling of parables, but He still got his point across. He corrected both the religious and the unreligious. He did not just come to be nice, He came to change people. He never condoned sin, and He exhorted people to sin no more. He came to change everyone -- the Jews and the Gentiles.

 

General Note:

Oh, and "unbelieving" is also scriptural -- see the Greek word apistos

 

Luke 12:46

The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for [him], and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.

 

John 20:27

Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust [it] into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

 

1 Cor 7:14

For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

 

1 Cor 7:15

But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such [cases]: but God hath called us to peace.

 

2 Cor 6:14

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

 

Titus 1:15

Unto the pure all things [are] pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving [is] nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.

 

Rev 21:8

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Edited by nestof3
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Not Jenny but Non-Christians is just a simple and much more respectful. :)

 

I agree that is better, but I guess I have a preference for speaking in positive terms, rather than defining people by what they aren't.

 

For example, we tend to refer to ourselves as homeschoolers or home educators, rather than "non-schoolers." I refer to myself as a vegan, rather than "non-meat-eater." Non-Christians may or may not be "believers" in the sense of being religious, but they are many things other than "not Christian."

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All talk of terminology aside, how do I find time to interact with __________ fill in the blank with whatever word doesn't offend you. Sigh.. I hate saying the wrong thing. I try to not make anyone mad...It is my goal in life. So please, just put the terminology aside and how can I interact with the "real" world?

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All talk of terminology aside, how do I find time to interact with __________ fill in the blank with whatever word doesn't offend you. Sigh.. I hate saying the wrong thing. I try to not make anyone mad...It is my goal in life. So please, just put the terminology aside and how can I interact with the "real" world?

 

For what it's worth, I am not at all offended by your post. As I said, I think it's admirable that you're trying to move out of your comfort zone and interact with a more diverse group of people.

 

I think you'll do fine as long as you keep in mind that many--probably most--of the non-Christians with whom you interact won't have any interest in conversion. There will be a significant number of us who know about Christianity and aren't attracted to it at all. We'll treat you with respect as long as you treat us with respect. But we will have no interest in being taught about your religion. Be nice, and we'll be nice.

 

I do think, though, that part of being nice is to be careful with your terminology, because the words you use can hurt people.

 

Other than that, all I can suggest is to pick some things you're interested in doing and then seek out other people who like to do them. That way, you'll come into contact with us infidels in a non-threatening and natural way. If you instead decide to go out looking for non-believers to befriend for the purpose of modeling your faith, you're unlikely to meet with a lot of warmth.

 

People are people. We all have good points and things that could use some work. I think you'll be better off looking at other humans as the people with whom you share the world, rather than dividing them into "like me" and "not like me" categories.

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I'm saying this as delicately as I can: if you're only involved with one kind of people, it's seems it would be because you're making choices that exclude the other kind. For example: is your homeschool group just for Christians? Try a secular group. Christian choir - try a city-wide choir. We have one through our community ed. How about library activities. We have many including knitting clubs, science clubs, reading clubs - all non-religious. How about 4-H? There are many, many choices out there. If you don't want your children around people professing different beliefs, you would need to do this on your own time. I have belonged to a lovely book club at B&N in the past

 

From my experience, many Christian homeschoolers choose not to involve themselves in those groups precisely to stay away from non-Christians. I understand why they do. But please, go into these situations with the idea and desire to befriend, not convert. I'm making this comment generally, not aimed at anyone here, but there is nothing more insulting than to have someone befriend you with the only intention being that of conversion. That is simply not honest.

 

Janet

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don't kid yourself. everyone in America knows about christianity. they don't need to be befriended as projects or spiritual charity cases in order to spread your gospel.

 

sorry if this sounds rude, proselytising makes me a little bit ill.

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All talk of terminology aside, how do I find time to interact with __________ fill in the blank with whatever word doesn't offend you. Sigh.. I hate saying the wrong thing. I try to not make anyone mad...It is my goal in life. So please, just put the terminology aside and how can I interact with the "real" world?

 

How about trying out some homeschool oppotunities like Mad Science or a museum class? There's always volunteer work as well -- helping out at the library, animal shelter, hospital.

 

I have a sort of sense that, as posted before, each person I come in contact with during a day, regardless of how short a time, is of consequence in the grand scheme of things. Of course, it helps to find time to go out into the world (and I don't mean that in a spiritual sense).

 

I plan to start taking the boys to the library to help with reshelving this summer.

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I'm saying this as delicately as I can: if you're only involved with one kind of people, it's seems it would be because you're making choices that exclude the other kind. For example: is your homeschool group just for Christians? Try a secular group. Christian choir - try a city-wide choir. We have one through our community ed. How about library activities. We have many including knitting clubs, science clubs, reading clubs - all non-religious. How about 4-H? There are many, many choices out there. If you don't want your children around people professing different beliefs, you would need to do this on your own time. I have belonged to a lovely book club at B&N in the past

 

From my experience, many Christian homeschoolers choose not to involve themselves in those groups precisely to stay away from non-Christians. I understand why they do. But please, go into these situations with the idea and desire to befriend, not convert. I'm making this comment generally, not aimed at anyone here, but there is nothing more insulting than to have someone befriend you with the only intention being that of conversion. That is simply not honest.

 

Janet

 

This reminds me of the movie I recommended last night. Hidden Secrets. One person proved uninterested in caring for anyone, getting to know anyone, focusing on the negative while others refused to compromise their faith but genuinely cared for others and exhorted with scripture when needed -- all at the same time.

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As a mom, I have never been too worried that I am not surounded by non believers and oportunities to share my faith. I have always thought that raising my children was my main responsibility and my own kids were the ones I should focus on teaching about Christ. My husband has always had his work and has shared many times with people there.

 

 

 

This is something I worry about, think about, argue for/against (depending on the day) and have come to the conclusion - at this point in my life - I am not called to be a missionary. Right now, the very most important thing I can do is give my children a good foundation. I need to support my husband in any way I can. I help care for elderly grandparents. I support friends who are going through tough times.

 

I think we get guilted into thinking if we don't convert people, we're not doing our job. The fact is we all have different purposes within the body. I think we try to take too much on sometimes. My job right now is defined in one way. My friend who has no children and works 9-5 has a different job. I need to support her and encourage her as much as she needs to take the opportunities presented with co-workers. I am not in a situation where I am around non-christians terribly often. But the encouraging other believers is just as important a job if you ask me.

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I think that a lot of Christians *assume* that people who do not attend their church, or who do not attend church at all, are non-believers. I do not attend church, but I am not a "non-believer". I have been amazed at the hatefulness of Christian homeschoolers in my area. I once wanted to start a homeschool group that was inclusive of all homeschoolers. Through this I think I was branded as a "non-believer". Most of the others were afraid to be "inclusive" and since that time they have not been nice to me. I have noticed that the Christian groups in my town are disdainful of anyone who is outside of their circle. This is the opposite of Christ. It seems like many Christians try so hard to be perfect by staying away from others who they fear to be "non-believers", but they don't realize that this is exactly the opposite of what they claim to be. I wish more Christians would explore this behavior. I am not a non-believer, but I have experienced a lot of hate from so-called Christians who have judged me without even knowing me.

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Honestly, I don't want to ignore you, but I don't feel comfortable getting into this too deeply. Not right now.

 

All I can say is that, while "those who believe differently" may be a mouthful, it's much more accurate and respectful than "nonbelievers." I don't believe what you believe, but I believe what I believe very deeply and sincerely. And words like "nonbelievers" just put up barriers.

 

I use the word unconvinced. Non/unbeliever has always seemed a bit demeaning to me. I'm not sure if unconvinced comes off any better, but to my ear it sounds better.

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