* Think of the kingdom of heaven as a restoration to how God intended the world to be. Recognize that the kingdom of heaven doesn’t refer just to people getting reserved seats in heaven for when they die. Know that, instead, the kingdom of heaven begins here on Earth, where people can experience the blessing of a new way of living right now. When talking with people about spirituality, don’t focus just on getting to heaven in the future. Let them know that they can start experiencing transformation from God now, and begin to live healthier and more fulfilling lives as a result. Understand that when Jesus came to announce the kingdom of God, He meant that He was restoring God’s created order to the world. Know that Jesus wants to transform people in the world instead of helping them escape it. Help people understand that, through a relationship with Jesus, they can experience blessings that start now, not later.

* Think of sin as a barrier. Understand that many people will tune you out when you use the word “sin” while talking to them about faith, because they either don’t recognize sin in their lives or they’re offended by the thought. Know that if you help them think about what barriers exist between them and God, however, they’ll likely be more open to discussing spirituality. Focus on the shame people often feel in our society today, because of the many cultural messages that they don’t measure up to all that’s considered good and attractive. Help them realize that a relationship with Jesus, who offers true and unconditional love, will set them free from shame. Emphasize that the central spiritual issue isn’t just about right versus wrong; it’s about brokenness versus wholeness. Help them see that any attitudes or behaviors that place barriers between them and God leave them broken, but Jesus can give them the wholeness they need as He connects them to God.

* Think of people who are saved and “born again” as restored to a right relationship with God. Rather than using the terms “saved” and “born again,” which carry negative cultural connotations and emphasize a future relationship with God in heaven, focus on how people can be restored to a right relationship with God beginning here on Earth, as soon as they embrace a relationship with Jesus. Understand that salvation isn’t an escape from the world to some other invisible world; it’s the transformation of this world as God invades it. Realize that heaven is just a byproduct of salvation that begins during people’s earthly lives and continues after their souls leave this world, as they keep on loving God and other people. Recognize that salvation is geared more toward giving broken people wholeness than it is about simply giving them places in heaven. Understand that salvation is more than just a one-time event in which a person says a prayer and then receives a spiritual ticket to heaven. Know that salvation also allows people to experience genuine peace on Earth as they enjoy intimacy with God and keep growing closer to Him. Instead of asking people, “Are you saved?” as if salvation was just a business transaction to complete, ask them how God is at work in their lives. Remember that the Holy Spirit is at work in people’s lives even before they come to faith. Engage people in conversations about their spiritual journeys and the process of how they’re relating to God. Rather than emphasizing the importance of escaping hell when they die, focus on the blessings that a relationship with Jesus brings, both in this world and the next. Shift the spotlight from what people have to do to be saved, to helping them notice what God is already doing in their lives to draw them closer to Him. Respect the mystery, complexity, uniqueness, and beauty of what God is doing in people’s lives without trying to control them to make them fit into arbitrary boxes of who is “in” and who is “out” with God.