Learning engagement (in another language)

A few weeks ago I met up with my coworker Erika who over the past few years has had great success in engaging with students, building relationships with them and leading them to christ in a way they want to stick around. This is something that I have not really had the privilege of experiencing. All of the people I’ve led to christ never want to meet up for follow-up. So we meet up so I could pick her brain about evangelism and she had some questions to ask me about discipleship – the last few years both of us had been in situations where we did lots of one and less of the other.

“So how do you do it?” I asked

“I just got so frustrated when no one would meet up with me and no one would hang out and I had a whole week of time to fill and no one to disciple. I got so desperate I decided I’d do anything for a second appointment.”

As we talked about this further it sounded like a good idea. Willy and I decided that we wanted this semester at UQAM to be characterized by doing anything to get a second appointment as we figure out engagement and what works for us personally.

It’s a hard thing to wrestle with as we don’t want to seem like we’re doing a bait-and-switch with people, suddenly bringing up Jesus after we’ve hung out a few times and them having no clue what P2C is about. We want to be clear about who we are, yet fun and engaging enough for people to want to hang out with us and not think we’re too serious or boring. For girls it may be an easier thing to get a second meeting: bubble tea, coffee ‘date’, shopping, whatever… Guys maybe not so much. Go for a beer? Wings? Poutine & beer? Pick-up hockey?

This is the question we’re figuring out. How do we get a second appointment (in French)? I put the “in French” in there because, honestly, we’re limited in our communication. We can’t nuance things in the way we would in English. This was painfully clear to me today as I was sharing with students, doing Solarium & questionnaires and finding myself catching 80% of what was being said, but knowing that last 20% could help me ask good questions… and that’s my next challenge. Forming a good, challenging, thought-provoking question that demonstrates care. I can do that in English no problem.

As we had successes and failures on campus today I am encouraged by the fact that one day, like Erika, I’ll figure out what works and I’ll be able to communicate it with skill to these québécois students. One day.

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