Written by Holly Stiller of Port Perry, ON

“So, your dad is a nun?” asked another cashier at the grocery store where we both worked. As much as the question made me laugh (out loud, actually), I loved that she felt comfortable enough to ask me, as she tried to piece together what I meant when I said that my dad was a pastor. It made me realize just how different our worlds can be and how weird me being a Christian may seem to my friends who aren’t Christians yet.

I have a hard time with the debate over whether Christians should be friends with people who aren’t. It doesn’t really make any sense to me because I don’t think we’re supposed to be an exclusive group of people. I understand the importance of Christian friends to learn from, but I’ve also learned a lot from my friends who don’t share my faith. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned.

1 People don’t know much about Christians, so we need to be ready to answer questions – even the ones that make us laugh sometimes.

I think the church has often relied on the fact that we lived in a society that was formerly Christian. The church assumes that since the majority of grandparents went to church, they must have passed down the basics about Christianity to their children and the generations that followed. These basics now seem to mostly be rejected. But sometimes it’s not about rejection, it’s about not knowing.

I think it’s time for the church to find more creative ways to share about who God is and who we are.

We make big assumptions about people understanding the gospel, which is risky.

2 We aren’t the only ones who want to make the world a better place. I have many friends who are very driven to make the world a better place too. They simply aren’t doing it to advance the kingdom of God. We can join what they’re doing as well, it’s not just the other way around.

3 As a minister’s daughter, hiding that I’m a Christian was never really an option. Since people knew where I came from, they’ve asked me their silly questions, which has sometimes led to really neat conversations. We can’t assume that non-Christians hate the church. Often they just don’t know much about it and don’t have a Christian friend that they feel safe asking questions to. We should that be that friend.

Let’s invest in people who aren’t Christians and let’s stop treating them like a new project, but rather as fun and interesting people who have stories to tell and things they can teach us as well.