Small talk. Giving people a reason to go get another plate of appetizers since the beginning of time.
I’m not sure anyone enjoys small talk in any culture. I’ve never been any good at it. But now, on top of wondering if what I’m saying is ok, I have to figure out HOW to say it. Oh well.
Small talk here is very similar to in the States, with the same topics taboo (politics, religion, how much money you earn, Kanye, etc). and similar topics come up all the time (weather, weekend plans, work, Donald Trump, etc).
The strange responses to “I’m a pastor”
Something strange has happened to me now on multiple occasions. The topic of work comes up. “What do you do?”
“I’m a pastor.”
Then God proceeds to throw the door open for us to explain what we are doing here in Germany.
But this took a turn recently! A new friend and I were walking to the train and she asked, “so, you’re a pastor, right? Is that something you just do for work, or is it a religion, too?”
What followed was a very brief conversation about the fact that I actually do believe in Jesus, and what I do I do because I am convinced he really was God in the Flesh.
The conversation was cut short because we both had to catch our trains in different directions. But I want to pause here.
When was the last time you were asked that?
“Are you a Christian, like, so you have social support around you, or is it an actual religion?”
“Are you a Christian as a way to get plugged in to service opportunities, or it really religious to you?”
These types of sentiments are much more rare in the U.S.; it seems anyone who labels themselves a Christian is assumed to be a believer in Jesus. Try telling someone “right, you’re a member of the _______ church. But are you a Christian?” and see how it goes for you. The two tend to go hand-in-hand in America.
But I’m finding that questions and comments like these are much more common here. People know pastors (at least in the state church) don’t even need to be Christians to hold the role. And many people will say “I’m a Christian, but I don’t believe in God.” Here, Christian status or church membership is very often a matter of heritage, not eternal Hope.
And so, the ground is SO FERTILE for people to hear about Jesus here. The idea that someone is a genuine believer in Jesus is refreshing, and a point of conversation!
Pray for this conversation (enthusiastically promised to be continued) and many similar ones that we are having with each passing week here!
God is Good!