At a recent discussion group I was leading at church the participants were a bit alarming. Statements such as “I am not sure I believe in God” were echoed more than once. Two others admitted they “wanted to bolt when I was speaking.” Others shared the difficulties of enduring this discussion and whether it mattered. I was struggling to hide my shock among this group of church members. I consider myself difficult to be offended, but this was running the gauntlet.
I spent the next few days cross-examining my attempts to lead the group through some interesting content on Christianity. I knew the evening had been a failure but was still unable to figure out where it went wrong. The next Sunday I saw one of the ones who “wanted to bolt when I was speaking” (because they said those exact words) and asked if she would return. She said she would absolutely return and thoroughly enjoyed the discussion group. I told her I was not sure how she felt because of the comments she made. Her gaffaw snapped my head around faster than physically possible, “those weren’t my comments, I was just role playing.” ROLE PLAYING!
For days I was tormented by the failure of that evening and how I was going to correct it, and yet they were role playing. I sought out other guests from that evening and found out they all thought we were role playing. I was leading the discussion and missed this critical information.
Sometimes when someone says “I am not sure if I believe in God” the best response is silence. Sometimes we are misreading a situation at such a large scale it takes several days to see it in perspective. Sometimes we think we are offended, but if we wait for pertinent information a healthy paradigm shift can take place.
Question: Have you misread a situation which required a complete rethinking of the scenario?