Ministering in an Increasingly Fragmented World : Terry Crist

Ministering in an Increasingly Fragmented World - Terry Crist - 97 - FrontStage BackStage with Jason Daye

In our us versus them world, how can we engage with and minister to people with differing beliefs in a way that truly honors God? In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by Terry Crist. Terry is the co-lead pastor of City of Grace in Phoenix, along with his wife, Judith. Terry is passionate about the beauty of the gospel and its power to transform communities. His most recent book is entitled Loving Samaritans. Together, Terry and Jason explore how we, as ministry leaders, can live lives of radical kindness and inclusivity without compromising our beliefs or the truth of the gospel. Terry shares from his own experiences and ministry how to find common ground with those who have differing beliefs and extend grace to them as you share the love of Christ.

Looking to dig more deeply into this topic and conversation? Every week we go the extra mile and create a free toolkit so you and your ministry team can dive deeper into the topic that is discussed. Find your Weekly Toolkit below… Love well, Live well, Lead well!

Video Links

Share the video with your ministry leaders >> YouTube

Audio Links

Share the audio podcast with your ministry leaders…

Additional Resource Links – Explore Terry’s website to discover more about his church and ministry, along with valuable resources to support you on your spiritual journey.

Loving Samaritans: Radical Kindness in an Us vs. Them World – As a pastor committed to building deep relationships with people whose life experiences are different than his own, Terry Crist knows the beauty and challenge of connecting across dividing lines of race, economic status, faith, and much more. And in his book, he shares how you can too.

Connect with Terry – Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Connect with PastorServe – LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook 

Feeling overwhelmed, burned out, or just want to talk?  Complimentary Coaching Session for Pastors

Ministry Leaders Growth Guide

Key Insights and Concepts

  • In these divided times, it’s essential to hold onto the beauty of God’s intention for the Church, despite its complexities and the reality of church hurt.
  • Our world’s tribal nature isn’t inherently negative, but when tribalism perceives others as threats, it hinders our ability to connect with other church communities and unite for our common purpose.
  • Jesus exemplified that it’s our love for one another, not doctrinal debates or church size, that impacts the world and truly demonstrates the grace of God.
  • Effective cultural engagement, as seen in Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman, involves seeking common ground and engaging in deep, meaningful conversations.
  • Being present and engaged in everyday moments allows us to truly see and connect with others, fostering genuine relationships that lead to transformative conversations.
  • Stereotypes and depersonalization arise from a lack of deep listening and curiosity, hindering our ability to understand and connect with people unlike us.
  • Jesus’s masterful listening and his willingness to engage deeply with individuals both serve as a model for ministry leaders to step out of their comfort zones and connect authentically.
  • Engaging people personally lays the foundation for transformation and discipleship, far surpassing the effectiveness of impersonal evangelism methods.
  • Personally connecting with individuals doesn’t detract from reaching the broader community; instead, it enhances our effectiveness as ministers of the gospel as we engage with others individually and broadens our understanding of those who are unlike us.
  • Jesus’s intentional engagement with the Samaritans challenges us to break free from echo chambers and engage with those unlike us, recognizing God’s presence in their lives.
  • Creating spaces for deep conversations and allowing room for questions and differing opinions opens doors for grace to work and for transformative encounters to occur.
  • Embracing God’s love for ourselves enables us to love others authentically and selflessly.
  • Our effectiveness as leaders isn’t solely measured by outward success, but by the depth of our love for God and others, cultivated from a place of being deeply loved by God.

Questions for Reflection

  • How do these divided times challenge my understanding of God’s intention for the Church? Do I tend to feel the Church needs to show up in specific ways because of the cultural challenges we are facing? If so, how would I describe these specific ways? How do these align with the heart of Jesus? 
  • How can I hold onto the beauty of His design amidst the complexities and hurt that happen within the church? How can I help others understand the love of God even when they may have experienced pain from the Church?
  • In what ways do I see tribalism affecting my interactions with others, both individuals and other ministries?
  • Reflecting on Jesus’ love for one another, how can I demonstrate God’s grace more effectively in my interactions with other ministry leaders, regardless of doctrinal differences or church size? 
  • How have I and/or our church collaborated with other churches and ministries in our area? What have we learned from these interactions? 
  • Am I truly present and engaged in my everyday interactions, or do I find myself living life on autopilot? How can I cultivate a deeper presence to see and connect with others authentically?
  • Have I noticed any tendencies towards stereotypes or depersonalization in my interactions with others? How can I cultivate curiosity and deep listening to understand people more fully?
  • What are some recent examples of how I have connected with people who are unlike me? What happened during these experiences?
  • How can I step out of my comfort zone and engage more deeply with individuals, even those who may challenge my perspectives?
  • How can I shift my approach to evangelism from impersonal methods to more personal engagement, laying a foundation for transformation and discipleship in others’ lives? What could this look like in my life?
  • How does our local church approach outreach and evangelism in our community?
  • Do I believe that connecting with individuals detracts from reaching the broader community? If so, how can I begin to see it as enhancing my effectiveness as a minister of the gospel instead? 
  • In what ways am I challenged to break free from echo chambers and engage with those who are unlike me, recognizing God’s presence in their lives? What steps can I take to make this a reality?
  • How do I measure my effectiveness as a ministry leader? Do I prioritize loving my neighbors well over measurable “success”? Why or why not? Do I need to focus on different or additional metrics when assessing the impact of my ministry?
  • In what ways do I struggle to embrace God’s love for myself? How does this impact my ability to love others authentically and selflessly?
  • How can I shift my focus from outward success to the depth of my love for God and others, recognizing that true leadership is cultivated from a place of being deeply loved by God? How will I make these shifts in my life and ministry?

Full-Text Transcript

In our us versus them world, how can we engage with and minister to people with differing beliefs in a way that truly honors God?

Jason Daye
In this episode, I am joined by Terry Crist. Terry is the co-lead pastor of City of Grace in Phoenix, along with his wife, Judith. Terry is passionate about the beauty of the gospel and its power to transform communities. His most recent book is entitled Loving Samaritans. Together, Terry and I explore how we, as ministry leaders, can live lives of radical kindness and inclusivity without compromising our beliefs or the truth of the gospel. Terry shares from his own experiences and ministry how to find common ground with those who have differing beliefs and extend grace to them as you share the love of Christ. Are you ready? Let’s go.

Jason Daye 
Hey, friends, welcome to another exciting episode of FrontStage BackStage, I’m your host Jason Daye. Each and every week, I have the distinct privilege of sitting down with a trusted ministry leader. And we dive into a conversation all in an effort to help you and pastors and ministry leaders just like you embrace a healthy rhythm for both life and ministry. We are proud to be a part of the Pastor Serve Network. And along with every episode, our team creates an entire toolkit that is freely available to you and to your ministry leadership team at your local church. And there are a ton of different resources to dig more deeply into the conversation that we’re about to have. You will find links to resources and tools. You’ll also find a Ministry Leaders Growth Guide, which includes questions for reflection for you and for your ministry leaders to process through and to really grow more deeply around this topic. So be sure to check that out at Now, our team at Pastor Serve loves walking alongside pastors and ministry leaders. This is what we do day in and day out all year round. And we are offering complimentary coaching sessions to pastors and ministry leaders. And you can learn more about that at If you’d like to find out what it’s like to have a ministry coach and to dive into a conversation please check that out. Now, for those of you joining us on YouTube, please give us a thumbs up and take a moment to drop your name and the name of your church in the comments below. We love getting to know our audience better. And our team will be praying for you and for your ministry. Whether you’re following us on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform, please be sure to subscribe and follow so you do not miss out on any of these great conversations. I’m excited about today’s conversation. At this time, I’d like to welcome Terry Crist to the show. Terry, welcome.

Terry Crist 
Jason, thanks for the invitation to be with you today. Looking forward to our conversation. And before we jump in, and let me just say thank you for what you and your team offer to the church at large. I’ve had a few minutes to poke around your website and explore some of your resources. And you guys are doing outstanding work in an essential space. So, from my heart to yours, thank you for what you do to serve the church.

Jason Daye 
Thank you, Terry, that is so appreciated. Our team loves words of encouragement like that because a lot of the work that we do can be very challenging as all of us in ministry are facing challenges, and together, Terry, we’re going to dive in and talk about some of the challenges that we’re facing as pastors and ministry leaders, kind of in the day and age that we live, right? Society is interesting, to say the least, these days. We’ve seen a lot, even just over the last decade or so. And just conversations, postures, you know, there tends to be oftentimes, Terry, we see some divisiveness around conversations. That people are holding on to things kind of tightly, including their opinions, their thoughts, and their beliefs. But Terry, you as a pastor and ministry leader, and someone who is just kind of trying to live out, not just talk about what Jesus taught, but live out what Jesus taught, and really been honing in on some of these conversations around specifically how do we engage with people who may not believe the way we believe, right? And how do we do that in a winsome way? How do we do that in a God-honoring way? How do we do that in a way that helps people get a taste of Jesus and inch closer to Jesus rather than kind of pushing them away? And so there’s a lot to be said around this conversation. But you’ve recently written a book called Loving Samaritans, where you dive into kind of this world from a variety of different ways. I mean, there’s richness in what you write, brother, and I’ve shared with you that it’s very impactful. But to start off, Terry, could you begin by helping us think through, perhaps, as a pastor or as a ministry leader, why are we seeing more challenges to finding common ground, to having a conversation with someone who believes differently, versus maybe getting a little defensive in regard to what we believe versus what someone else believes, right? I mean, I think it’s a good place to start.

Terry Crist 
Well, let me first of all, just affirm that I agree with you, I think we are living in highly divided and polarized times. And I tend to go back and forth on this because I’m a fifth-generation pastor. I love the church. I love everything about God’s intention. I realize that our story is a bit complicated and that there are times when we’re not at our best. And church hurt is a real thing. And I get all that. But I love God’s idea and love his intention. And when I sit with my father, and going back years, with my grandfather, listening to their challenges in ministry, it’s apparent that we’re living in really unique times. And I tend to go back and forth on one hand, thinking that these are the most divided times in history. And then I kind of push back and take a look at the times into which the gospel landed, the world into which Jesus was born, the complexity of that day, the power of empire, faith on the margins, occupation, oppression, human sexuality, and just all that went into that world that Jesus was born into. And I’m then mindful of the fact that maybe these aren’t the most divided times, but they are divided. I do think one of the things that makes these times unique is the technological advantage or disadvantage, depending on your perspective, that we have. The fact that division is front and center, the fact that we’re all connected and hyper-connected across the planet. So, we are consistently aware of the divisions in our world, the white noise isn’t ceasing. And also the fact that I think many, and this breaks my heart, Jason, but I think there are many, and unfortunately, some within our fraternal community, within the church and with our colleagues, who have made division a virtue, and they’re using it as an instrument to build whatever it is that they’re building. And that breaks my heart. Because throughout history, division has been seen for what it is. It’s of another kingdom, it’s of another spirit. And it doesn’t advance the church. And it certainly isn’t a long-term game. So, I want to see us as pastors recover what it means to love each other. And we can talk about loving our communities. But let’s love other churches in town. And let’s love the church in general, the capital C church, and let’s find a way in these times to be reminded of the idea that we’re all on the same team as pastors. We desperately need each other, where faith is declining with the rise of the nuns and the duns, our relationships with other pastors in the community are perhaps as valuable, if not more valuable than ever.

Jason Daye 
I can really appreciate that, Terry. And as we look at that idea of locking arms with other pastors and other ministry leaders in our communities and our cities, there is this sense that some people fear locking arms with others because they don’t necessarily agree 100% with everything that that particular pastor of that particular church upholds. Speak into that for us a little bit, Terry, because there are nuances, right, from different streams of tradition within the Christian church. We know this. It’s not a surprise to any of us in ministry. But it seems like that gap, that chasm, is becoming more pronounced. I don’t know if it’s widening, actually. But that chasm has been more focused upon, it seems, by some ministry leaders. Talk just a little bit about navigating that. What’s healthy there and what’s unhealthy? How do we process that a bit?

Terry Crist 
Sure. I think it’s clear that we live in a tribal world, and we’ve always been a tribal world. I mean, from the earliest of days, we’ve sought out relationship with one another for a wide variety of reasons. There’s nothing wrong with tribes. We’re all tribal in a thousand different ways, and even ancient Israel was tribal by design. But within the beauty of the tribes of Israel, there was diversity. And there was also a sense of commonality, a connection, a commitment to togetherness, to one another. And when I look at the landscape of the church today, I think one of the big challenges is not just that we exist in tribes, but tribalism then perceives the other to be a threat. Perceives the other to be something or someone to be eliminated, and that makes it really difficult to reach a community, especially given the fact that Jesus taught us that it’s our love for one another that is, in fact, our most powerful witness. So we’re not going to be more effective in reaching the world through refining our doctrinal statements, or building bigger platforms, or any of the things that we do. And by the way, I’m all about attraction and missional church, because I think both have their place. But we’re not going to improve upon methodology that results in reaching the world. What we do have the opportunity to do is to exemplify the kind of love that bears witness to the grace of God, the kind of love that says not only to others within the church, you matter, but to the very people around me who don’t believe what I believe, and in some cases may even stand in opposition to what I believe. And yet, I see them for who they are, image bearers created in the image of a loving God who desires to reach them with His grace and to love them into a life-changing relationship. And, of course, all this is something that I unpack in the book Loving Samaritans because I think it is a model for cultural engagement. Not just a picture of Jesus reaching a woman at a well in Samaria, not just a picture of him engaged with her in what were some of the most provocative topics of the time, but a model for what it means for us to reach and connect with others.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, I love that. And in Loving Samaritans, Terry, you help us look at this idea of common ground. When we have friends, family members, co-workers, whoever it might be, and actually finding this common ground and kind of starting there and engaging there. Which is the flip opposite of what we’re seeing in society to such a degree, right? So, as pastors and ministry leaders, what are some things that we need to keep in mind when we’re engaging with culture engaging with society when it comes to this idea of common ground?

Terry Crist 
I think fundamentally, to a large degree, we all want the same thing. And so here I am today, engaged with you on this podcast in a high-rise building, I’m on the 14th floor, and you can see the city out behind me here. And it’s always really interesting for me to look into the camera and see the city behind me because it brings me back to the idea that if as pastors our hearts are not big enough for that entire city there to fit in, for every person to be situated in, then we really need to do some interior work. And so much of what I talk about in Loving Samaritans is really fundamentally about spiritual formation. It’s about the interior work that we need to do to create the kind of lives that are big enough for everyone to find their respective place in. And when we do that, when we do the kind of work that makes room for people unlike us, then it positions us, I believe by God’s grace, to have conversations with them. The common ground that we all have and share is that we fundamentally want the same thing. We want to be at peace, we want to be seen, we want to be heard, we want to be loved, and we want to be valued. We want to raise families that flourish and the kind of kids that move beyond what we’ve accomplished in our lives. I think there are more things that we have in common with the community around us than we realize. And if we begin to identify them, not just the pain points in our community, but the hopes and the dreams and the aspirations of our neighbors, that opens a whole new world of rich conversations, and the gospel flows along the lines of those sorts of conversations. So I think it’s a matter of looking around and saying, not just who are these people, but what do these people want out of life and what do we share in common?

Jason Daye 
Yeah, that’s helpful, Terry. Now, practically speaking, what does that look like in your life? As a pastor and a ministry leader, and in the lives of those people, even your church, how do you encourage them to live into this idea that we are engaging in these kinds of conversations? We are living in life together and we are focusing on those things that we have most in common. What does that practically look like?

Terry Crist 
What does it practically look like? Well, it looks like going through our day with our eyes wide open and our hearts wide open, looking for those moments of opportunity in which we can see people and truly see people and connect with them in a deep and fundamental way. And we all have these opportunities on a daily basis, whether it’s in the boardroom, the lunch room, in an elevator, or in a coffee shop, I’m really encouraging people to be present in the moments that we’re in throughout the day. Because I think for many of us, we just tend to live life on autopilot. And I did this for years. Part of the story that I share in Loving Samaritans is how my wife and I went from living in the suburbs. As we all sort of do, I think many of us anyhow, start with a small family. And yet, as your kids grow you look for a little more space. And more often than not, that pushes you out to the edge of a city because living in the city can be complicated. And so we ended up in a little bedroom community called Fountain Hills. And as with so many other people, we would drive through a neighborhood, wave at our neighbors, pull into our garage, get out of our car, go into the house, and spend the evening. The next morning, get back in the car, back out of the driveway, wave at our neighbors, and go about our day. And we reached a point in time where we said, look, God has been kind and gracious to us. And our church has experienced growth. And we’ve gone from a single site, in fact, we’d grown from meeting in our living room to a single site, to multi-site, to being in a couple of states. Along with that we were engaged and resourcing our staff, raising up leaders, and equipping and empowering them to serve our communities. But we wanted to get back into rolling up our shirt sleeves and putting our hands in the dirt. So we left that suburban bedroom community and moved right into the heart of the city. And it has been illuminating to me to rediscover just how I was living life on autopilot. And by seeing people, by opening the door to conversations with people, it really leads to getting to know them, and the gospel more often than not flows along the lines of conversations.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, that’s incredible. And when we think about the idea of putting ourselves in a position where we can have conversations with people, I think that that’s key because oftentimes in ministry we can insulate ourselves, right, Terry? To a point where we’re not having these conversations with people where we’re not really engaging in some of these deeper conversations. One of the things that you touch on…

Terry Crist 
If I could just build on that, please. I was just gonna say and then what ends up happening is that we tend to look at people as groups, we see them in categories, and that then leads to this depersonalization. And sometimes in the worst cases, even a dehumanization. So we end up with the idea that all people are blank. We can fill in both of those blanks all blank are blank, all people are blank. And I’ve discovered so many times that the stereotypes that we hold, these ideas of everyone being the same as a collective, are rooted in the lack of conversations, the lack of deep listening. And I’m not just talking about surface conversations, but I’m talking about deep listening, I’m talking about the second, third, and fourth conversation that really gets to the heart of what people fear and what people long for. A curiosity is something that is, I think, largely absent from the church because we filled in these blanks, presuming that we know what people are thinking. And as we do that, the more we fill in the blanks with our stereotypes, the further and further that we get from the communities that we should be deeply embedded in. What I love about Jesus is that he was a master listener. I mean, I love so much about Jesus, right? I love the fact that he saved me. But he’s a master listener. He was able to sit with people and that didn’t mean that he always answered their questions. There are something like 113 questions asked of Jesus in the gospels and he only answers two or three of them. So he knows the art of the segue. He knows the art of the pivot. He knows how to take a conversation and move it to a deeper place so it doesn’t just sit at surface level. And these are some of the really important values that I would love to see leaders develop. Get out of the office, get off the campus, bro. Get out of the offices and go into a coffee shop. And I don’t mean take your laptop and your big family Bible there and prep your sermon because that’s kind of what we do. You know, I’m in a coffee shop and I’m prepping my sermon, and I’m looking at people and I’m thinking what might their needs be? What might their fears be? Leave the Bible home every now and then and leave the laptop home every now and then. And just be curious and engaging with people. And I don’t think I can emphasize this enough, because that sense of curiosity then brings about a connection that leads to a conversation, and a conversation leads to a relationship, and a relationship leads to time and investment. And this is so important because if we start our evangelism initiatives there, then the chance is highly likely that we’ll move from that conversation into not just seeing their conversion over time, which is what we want, right? But then the foundation for discipleship is already laid. But when we rely on the old efforts in evangelism, you know, the tracks that I was sitting at a stoplight not far from here years ago with my window down and somebody drove by and threw a track in the window, landed on my lap. I thought I’d been shot for a minute. As they drove off and I picked it up, it was one of those great old classic Jack T Chick tracks. And I thought this is a drive-by tracking. But what often happens is when we reduce our evangelism down to these impersonal methods, or even the big altar calls, which I love, and every weekend we see people come to faith in Jesus. But when we do that, we really haven’t established a basis for spiritual formation. So by engaging people personally in conversations we’ve already built or laid the foundation for the transformation of their whole life, the formation of their spiritual life, and their discipleship. So it begins there by just getting out in the community. And that means we have to get off the campus every now and then. Or every day, as is the case for me.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, that’s good to hear. And as you’re saying that I was thinking through when you’re having real conversations with real people, when you’re putting yourself in that position and you’re engaging in those things, that is a smaller more finite approach to ministry, in many ways. Rather than the big mass, how many people can I tell that Jesus loves you, right? Which is interesting, Terry, as we think through this, because it seems like so much of technology and methodology in many ways is moving, and has been moving, and the training and excitement that the buzz is around this idea of reaching the entire world, right? And there’s nothing wrong with that. I mean, Jesus calls us to that. But there’s something very real about not worrying so much about reaching the entire world, but reaching that one person who lives on your block, right? Or that one person that’s in the coffee shop every day at the same time you’re in the coffee shop every day. Kind of taking it down and going back to Jesus. If we think about Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman, in that moment, he wasn’t strategizing a way to share the gospel with the entire world in some mass way, but he was modeling what sharing the gospel really should look like in a single conversation. So help us think through that, Terry, a little bit because there’s often a push for more, bigger, and better, right? All those types of things. How can we look at ministry today in a healthy way that might balance those things but not lose the personalization, right? The one-on-one life piece.

Terry Crist 
When I was a young pastor, I bought into the idea that the more present that I was to the one, the less present I would be to the many. So there was sort of this impersonalized approach that since we want to reach the whole world is, as you’ve referenced here, and since we want to see people come to faith in Jesus, I need to stay focused on the biggest broadest picture. I discovered over time that in connecting with the one, you actually become more effective in reaching the many. So by sitting with people, by engaging with them individually, it only enhances what you do at the biggest broadest level when you’re connecting with a congregation or even across the link, even on platforms like this. So I don’t think it takes anything from us to connect with people individually. But what it also adds to us is the idea of this, that ours is a show-and-tell gospel. And oftentimes, the telling part is ineffective because the showing part is absent. So as one who desires to communicate truth in a way that is effective, I’m mindful of the fact that truth has to be embodied within me, I’ve got to be living this out. And nobody knows if I’m living out the gospel any better than the people in my house and the people who live next door to me. So that puts this sense of accountability into the system. I’m not living up in the suburbs, and driving into my church, and preaching to people who don’t live with me who aren’t doing the journey with me. But I’m actually engaged with them on a daily basis. I think it makes us all more effective ministers of the gospel to do exactly that.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, that’s good. We don’t want to lose out on that, on connecting with people on a personal level, because, again, it goes back to what you said earlier. You referenced the idea that we just kind of look at every X type of person as just this big monolithic something. Instead, the reality of individuals and what that means. So I think it’s helpful. In Loving Samaritans, you talk about this idea of envisioning our local churches as communal wells where Jesus would feel welcome to sit and engage in meaningful conversations, which is one of the things I highlighted, brother. And I love that. But talk to me a little bit about what you go on to say. That, tragically, this vision of what our local churches might look like is far from from reality in many ways. So talk to us a bit about that spiritual well.

Terry Crist 
If I can, let me just kind of set it up by how Jesus ends up in Samaria by the well. Because in the Gospel of John, we have these two significant stories that are close together, but are book ends of this moment in the life of Jesus. And so the first in John 3 is when he meets with Nicodemus, he engages with the Pharisee. And it’s very, very important to know that Jesus loved Pharisees as well. And then from there, we see something really interesting happening. And that is that the disciples are baptizing people. And the Pharisees then began to stir up this debate with them. And the controversy is over who is baptizing more people. So the more things change, the more they stay the same, right? I mean, these baptismal wars, this competition over who has the biggest church, it goes all the way back to this moment. And the scripture says that Jesus leaves Judea to go to Galilee. Now, I didn’t realize this and I wish I had, but it was only after I wrote the book, I began looking at it in a few different translations. And one translation says that he fled. So there’s something about Jesus that doesn’t want to sit in these moments, these competitive moments with brother against brother and church against church. He flees that sort of moment. And then the Scripture tells us that he has to go to Samaria. Well, we know he doesn’t literally have to go there. There’s an alternative route. But the Spirit leads him to do this. So he ends up with a well there that is the site of so much pain in the Old Testament. It’s a story, first of all, a rich, rich story. Without getting too far off point here, this well represents Abraham’s initial journey. It represents Joseph when he was sold into slavery. Jacob has his moment at the well. His daughter Dinah is raped not far from the well. So this is not just any ordinary well, it is a well with a significant backstory. And I think Jesus chooses this well because of what it represents. It represents our apartment buildings. It represents our neighborhoods. It represents the world that we live in where people are broken, they’re disenfranchised, and they’re hurting. And they may live under this thin veneer of pretense that projects everything is okay, but just a few minutes with them in anonymous conversation and you’ll find from most people they’re far from being okay. And there Jesus has the conversation with her that opens her up and he spends a lot of time engaging with her. From there, she then goes back into the village. And I love this. The villagers come to Jesus and he has a conversation with them. And from the longest recorded conversation in the gospels with the woman, Jesus disappears into a small community for two days, and we don’t know what happened. We don’t know. The contrast is striking. From the longest conversation, there are two days missing from his itinerary. But we do know that it frames his ongoing love affair with the other, with the Samaritans. And all through his ministry, he goes out of his way to connect with the Samaritans. And at one point, even when a Samaritan village rejects him and the disciples want to call down fire on it as if they could. Jesus says, Don’t do that. And it all culminates with him ascending then and giving them the instructions just before the ascension, I want you to go to Judea and Jerusalem Judea, and by the way, don’t forget my friends, the Samaritans. So this begins Jesus’s love affair with the other. And I think that for many of us, we tend to hang out with people like us. We’re in our echo chambers. We’re trapped in our algorithms. Our belief systems are curated and being reinforced. But how much richer would our lives be for getting out of those things and engaging with people unlike us? Who is it on your block that is radically unlike you? And what might you discover through a conversation? Well, some might say, Yeah, I want to get to know people because I want to take Jesus to them. But I’m not sure that we ever take Jesus anywhere that he isn’t already present. The idea isn’t to take Jesus to the world, the idea is to find out where Jesus is already active in the lives and stories of people and as the old Blackaby line goes, to join him in his work. I need to walk through my day looking for the traces of grace, the evidences of the way that God is already working in my story, and in the lives of people around me in my community. Because I’ve guarantee you one thing, regardless of how hard the community is, and every one of us feels like our community is the hardest to break ground in, God’s already at work there. He’s engaged in the lives of people far from him. If you were to dust their life, you would find the fingerprints of God all over them. And the thing that we need to do as leaders is to walk through our day asking the question, Where is God at work? Where are the traces of grace in the lives of my neighbors? And how can I build on that? How can I discern that? And how can I engage God in the work? Because from there, God brings about the transformation of the human heart. Not only do we not take Jesus anywhere, but we don’t convert anyone. So let’s be mindful of who does.

Jason Daye 
That’s awesome, Terry, I love that. And as we’re looking at and thinking through that, processing through that and what that looks like in our lives as pastors and ministry leaders, one of the things that you touch on is this idea of judgment-free zones, right? This idea of when we’re engaging in these conversations with the other, with people who do not align with our belief systems or have completely different backgrounds, or they’re carrying baggage that we’re like, man, you gotta ditch that baggage or, whatever it might be. There can be a challenge to as much as we want to say we want to embrace people and welcome people with open arms, there is that challenge that we will judge. We do judge, we do kind of put those things up and don’t make it as accessible or as inviting for people to be real. Terry, how can we as pastors and ministry leaders work on that idea of a judgment-free zone and how that might look and show up in our lives and our ministries and how we can kind of impart that to the people God’s entrusted to us in our local congregations?

Terry Crist 
You’re right, we not only do this with our communities, but sometimes we do this within our own families. We find it really, really hard to just hold judgment. And I’m not talking about any sort of reworking of truth. I believe in the timelessness of Scripture. I believe in the inspiration of Scripture. And I believe in the timely application of it in the lives of people. But I’m also mindful of the fact that Jesus didn’t download everything to his disciples in a single conversation. In fact, there is this one point in time where he says, there is much I could tell you, but you cannot bear it now. And yet for many of us in ministry, we feel the need to give all the truth in every conversation to every single person. And for me, I have to remind myself that, number one, this is not my gospel, so I can take my ego off the table. This is not my gospel, if they don’t receive God’s plan for their life, this is not some failure on my part. And ultimately, the best thing I can do is to, again, not give up my convictions and my deep beliefs, but to make space for people to have these kinds of questions, these kinds of conversations. The kind of conversation where even when someone says, I don’t believe what you believe, I don’t accept your way of life, rather than defensively reacting against that, to get to affirm that that’s not unusual in today’s world, but what that might that be rooted in. Where does that come from? Does that come from some sort of belief system that was formed in them as a child? Or does it come from church hurt? Does it come from their perception that all pastors are hypocrites and that everybody in a church is out to take away their freedom? Where does it come from? And sometimes our defensiveness kicks in. And when our defensiveness kicks in based on fear, based on the weight of responsibility feeling like their conversion is on us individually, then we rush to judgment. But I think if we would create the kind of environment both in our homes and in our churches and in our communities, where we just, again, are willing to listen to where people are coming from, that it leads to a refining of our questions. And sometimes it leads to a tailoring of the message. Not a transformation of the message, but applying the message to them in a way that answers their need. And we see Jesus doing this through the Gospels. Even though the gospel is one size fits all, he communicates it relative to the context and relative to the individual person at that specific moment in time. So there’s a lot we can learn from that when it comes to evangelism. But when it comes to showing grace to other people, we don’t have to be afraid of letting them share their opinions. If you listen to people’s pain deeply enough, sometimes they’ll even see the roots of their pain and sometimes the way out of their pain when you allow them to share the deepest parts of their hearts.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, that’s really helpful, Terry. As we’re kind of winding this down, and again, I’ve just really really enjoyed Loving Samaritans, an absolutely amazing book, brother. And just the posture, the heart posture that you bring to this conversation, I think is so important. So important today. So thank you for that. I would love to give you just a little bit of time, Terry, just to share some words of encouragement with brothers and sisters who are serving the church or serving in ministry leadership. What words would you share with them today?

Terry Crist 
A couple of things. First of all, my heart behind the book is to create a basis for conversation, for dialogue, and for thoughtfulness with leaders. I don’t offer a lot of methodologies and simple practical steps. And I know there’s a place for all of that. But I feel like I’m talking about something that is much more fundamental, and that is the way that we’ve been formed. Ours is a gospel that is shaped in love. A cruciform life that emanates from an interior place of transformation. And if we give the people in our congregations methodologies, if we give them quick and easy steps to evangelize their neighbors, then when the culture shifts around us and the conversation shifts, they’re left unequipped and unarmed. But if we teach them what it means to live this life that is shaped in love and flows along the lines of love, then that never goes out of style. That is timeless and effective. And then I would also encourage pastors with this, you’re probably doing better than what you realize. You probably are more fruitful than what you can see at any given moment. The world has changed for all of us and all of us are trying to find how to minister effectively, how to be fruitful and to flourish in a way that is contextual to the moment that we find ourselves in. And few people are further ahead than any of us are. We’re all in this moment together. And I just want to encourage pastors to be faithful to where you are, to love your community well, and to be the best neighbor that you can be. Because at the end of the day, I don’t know what your eulogy is going to sound like. I don’t know what the people in the church are going to say about your Bible preaching or teaching, or your administrative skills, or whether or not you were effective in your stand-up comedy bits on the weekend. But I promise you one thing, if you touch your neighbors, if you love your neighbors, if you invest in your neighbors, then your neighbors are going to have some really extraordinary things to say about you. And that’s what this comes back down to. When Jesus could have summarized God’s plan using any language in the universe. He said, this is about loving God and loving your neighbor, even as you love yourself. So let God love you. If you’re feeling any deficit in your own life and you’re feeling like you’re drawing out of an empty well, then let God love you. Let God affirm you, sit in his presence, and know that you are his beloved child. And from that place of being loved deeply, love others deeply.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, excellent. Brother, what a great word. So encouraging, Terry. Brother, thank you so much for being on the show with us today. Thank you for putting pen to paper and wrestling with God over Loving Samaritans and just, again, the heart posture in that book. We will have links to the book in the toolkit for this episode. You can find that, along with lots of other resources there, so be sure to check that out. Brother, it has been an absolute joy to have you with us today. Thank you for making the time.

Terry Crist 
It’s been an honor. God bless you and the work that you guys are doing.

Jason Daye 
Awesome. Thank you, Terry. God bless you, brother.

Jason Daye
Now, before you go, I want to remind you of an incredible free resource that our team puts together every single week to help you and your team dig more deeply and maximize the conversation that we just had. This is the weekly toolkit that we provide. And we understand that it’s one thing to listen or watch an episode, but it’s something entirely different to actually take what you’ve heard, what you’ve watched, what you’ve seen, and apply it to your life and to your ministry. You see, FrontStage BackStage is more than just a podcast or YouTube show about ministry leadership, we are a complete resource to help train you and your entire ministry team as you seek to grow and develop in life in ministry. Every single week, we provide a weekly toolkit which has all types of tools in it to help you do just that. Now you can find this at That’s And there you will find all of our shows, all of our episodes and all of our weekly toolkits. Now inside the toolkit are several tools including video links and audio links for you to share with your team. There are resource links to different resources and tools that were mentioned in the conversation, and several other tools, but the greatest thing is the ministry leaders growth guide. Our team pulls key insights and concepts from every conversation with our amazing guests. And then we also create engaging questions for you and your team to consider and process, providing space for you to reflect on how that episode’s topic relates to your unique context, at your local church, in your ministry and in your life. Now you can use these questions in your regular staff meetings to guide your conversation as you invest in the growth of your ministry leaders. You can find the weekly toolkit at We encourage you to check out that free resource. Until next time, I’m Jason Daye encouraging you to love well, live well, and lead well. God bless.

Shareable Social Graphics

Strengthen Your Church

Strengthening your church, for us, begins by serving you, the pastor!