Finding Common Ground

April 18, 2012

Today’s guest post comes from Chris Cline, a volunteer leader in Missouri. Chris is a lover of sports, reading, journaling, and meeting new people. He also has recently jumped on the Netflix bandwagon, so he’s currently consumed by‘Friday Night Lights.’

As I walk through the Orlando airport, I see the complexity of life. People don’t slow down. Life is so BUSY!

It seems that this is a time of great disconnect.

It’s hard to connect with teenagers. It’s hard to connect with their parents. It’s hard to connect with the school administration. The only way to fix this is by being intentional.

A well-written book, Finding Common Ground by Tim Downs, gives some helpful tools to RECONNECT through this complexity.


Use wisdom when finding “open” moments to inject the “spiritual” – don’t force it. If you are around kids consistently, you are more likely to be present when these opportunities present themselves.

Remember the importance of “earning the right.” All tools and techniques go out the window if a kid doesn’t know that they are loved.

The average person is more likely to be open to spiritual conversations during these times:

Holidays: Christmas, Easter, New Year’s, Birthdays

Transitional Events: Job change, birth in family, etc…

Family Crisis: divorce, death, conflict, etc…

National Events: national tragedy, elections, etc…


Questions Are Non-threatening

-People grow weary of hearing our answers, but entertain questions all day

-Makes them an active participant in the conversation

-Lowers defenses – what’s the harm in asking?

Questions Communicate Humility

-Breaks stereotypes of being opinionated, judgmental, having all the answers

-Admits that we don’t have all the answers – this is true, we don’t!

-We area all fellow searchers

Questions Allow Listeners To Discover Truth For Themselves

-Asking a great question can a lot of times help the answerer to discover something they would miss by telling them a personal opinion

-Discovering the “whys” not the “whats”

Questions Demand Questions In Return

-Asking quality questions vs. leading questions (leading question: “I think Jesus is God’s Son, who do you think He is?)

-Good questions are: intelligent, open-ended, and raise a point without being manipulative

Categories of Questions

Background Questions

-What is it like around your house?

-How’s your relationship with your parents and/or siblings?

-Do you get into trouble a lot at home?

-How do you want to do things differently in your home?

-What are your brothers and sisters like? How are they like/ different from you?

-What kinds of things does your family do together?

-My favorite question to ask guys: What is a great lesson you’ve learned from your father?

Opinion Questions

-What do you think about the upcoming presidential election?

-What movies have you seen lately? What’d you like/ dislike about it?

Imagination Questions

-If you had plenty of money and could do whatever you want for a living, what would you do?

-What superpower would you ideally have if you could have any?

-How could you change the world?

Emotional Questions

-How do you feel about the hate crimes that happened in Jena, Louisiana?

-How do you feel about the current divorce rate?

-What are you passionate about? Why?

Agreements Communicate

“We’re not so different”

“We have similar values”

“We have the same concerns and interests”

“We have the same needs”

“I’ve been in your shoes”

Your Life

Be There For The Other Person’s Agenda, Not Yours.

-We live in a cynical age. When a stranger is unexpectedly friendly, the first thought is, “What do they want?”

-A wise sower begins to sow his life in the lives of those around him long before he wants anything in return

Take Him, Don’t Send Him

“You should really go to YL camp” vs “Come to YL camp WITH ME”

Be There AFTER The Deal Is Signed

-Discipleship is key to any harvest


What are some of your favorite questions that have turned into long conversations over dinner or at campaigners?

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