This past weekend Shane Claiborne was in town for an event called Contrast. After the event I had the pleasure of sitting next to Shane selling the books he signed.
When he took a seat at my table I introduced myself and before long it felt like I had known him for years. It was like our personalities clicked right away. We were both kinda nerdy and unpretentious and shameless and just normal. I had fun and I think he did too.
When some groupies ran behind the table to get a picture next to him I leaned hard right to avoid my shoulder getting in the shot. Afterwards I leaned left and said to Shane, I feel like an ‘almost celebrity.’ He burst out laughing, and so did I.
Shane is a great guy. The real deal.
I know some people who avoided the event because they “disagree with much of Shane’s theology.” Their loss.
I’ve spent far too many years arguing ‘right theology’ with Christians in church who are completely out of touch with how to live this gospel message out in the real world. Pietism has gripped us to the point that all that matters is personal holiness, donating money to some charity somewhere sometimes and preaching against “too much” Christmas shopping.
Shane and his friends have changed their communities in radical ways. Ways that both shame me and inspire me.
Near the end, when our table finally got a loll, I had an opportunity to ask him a question of my own and there was one question on my mind. It wasn’t very deep or profound. Not nearly as profound as I would have liked. But it was one of those questions rooted more in curiosity than anything.
Here’s what I asked him:
“Shane, for most of my faith I grew up believing that the way to become a Christian was by a Sinner’s Prayer. I’ve since changed my views a little, having been influenced by folks like Tony Campolo and N.T. Wright. When you gave your presentation you talked a lot about community and living like Jesus and being a place of sacrifice and love and standing up against bad laws and so on. Do you and your friends ever come to a place where you feel the time has a come to invite someone into a personal relationship with Jesus? Or is your approach to someone’s conversion more organic?”
If I can summarize and paraphrase his response, it was essentially “Yes!”
He went on to explain that while often people join the community and in a very real way they organically become disciples of Jesus, other times someone will approach him or his friends and ask to be prayed with because they want to become Christian, and still other times Shane or his friends will just come out and ask someone if they would like to have a relationship with Jesus, followed by something akin to a sinner’s prayer.
I’m not sure why, but for some reason his response impressed me.
If you could ask Shane Claiborne anything at all, what would it be? Leave your questions below and I’ll reach out to him and see if he’d be willing to answer some.