Using Cross-Cultural Conversations to Build Bridges
Learn more about this topic and find more information on creating friendly cross-cultural conversations at BITS.
Any religious tradition can be a part of your spiritual and social life, whether we are Christians, Jews, Muslims, and many other faith traditions. Our values can be expressed through a unique greeting or religious ceremony. Our thoughts and experiences can be expressed through our spiritual practices. We can live more closely to each other in a safe and supportive spiritual community.
Our experiences and beliefs can create various beliefs and beliefs in others. Many conversations around differences in belief systems arise in the course of communicating with people who do not share our religious traditions.
During a car ride, at an airport, or even at your friend’s house, a friendly question can illuminate or obscure perspectives on a range of spiritual topics. Questions that try to connect might also broaden discussions into questions that challenge people to define their own beliefs and values.
Let’s consider how to start positive cross-cultural conversations.
Cross-Cultural Conversation Initiatives: Looking for examples of someone else’s faith and practice in your life or friends’ lives is one way to raise more awareness about religion in your life and with others.
How to start a conversation about faith with someone else: Use a question about faith as the starting point. Ask, “Tell me about your faith or practice, and why do you think it’s important to you?” and “What kinds of beliefs or practices do you practice?” Have this conversation at a neutral table, even if it’s just between you and a guest. Or, go into a difficult area and ask your friend questions.
A discussion about religious beliefs and practices also provides more opportunity to see how that belief affects someone else.
Introduce yourself, just a bit, about yourself. Have your questions open-ended and clarify, “What do you think it’s important for you to have in your belief?” or “What are your beliefs?” Because this is also a conversation about another person’s beliefs and practices, discuss those as well.
Be careful to be supportive and gentle. Whatever you say may feel offensive to someone and may be met with resentment or even hostility. Appreciate that people want to be understood and heard.
Cross-Cultural Conversations Meetings, Once a Month: When you find that you’re not making any progress with friends or family on discussing religion, or finding ways to learn from other people about their beliefs and practices, you might want to consider a monthly meeting of a BITS. Through some introductory questions and discussion, you’ll get to know each other better and come to see that some differences in belief systems can be valuable, meaningful, and enriching.
To learn more about the BITS and to register for the upcoming meeting, click here. If you would like to participate, you must be 18 years of age or older. For questions, call 415-945-9775 or send an email. You may also click here to sign up for daily text updates and opportunities to join the next BITS.
Thanks for reading. Keep praying!