For however few there may be of you readers, I wanted to explain my relative infrequency of writing for the past few weeks. I have a job! After all my whining and searching and fretting, I have joined forces with a minsitry called Q Place working on their communications at a national level.
I wanted to tell you about Q Place because I increasingly see more reason to delight in its existence. I first got excited about it last September at their annual conference. I went to appease a friend who invited me, but I left uplifted and changed. That may sound like I am exaggerating, but bear with me as I explain what Q Place is.
Q Place is the new name for Neighborhood Bible Studies, a ministry that is now 50 years old. It was founded as a method to give to the masses what Intervarsity gives to college students: A small group environment free from harmful judgments where people openly ask questions, discover and grow closer to God through inductive Bible Study. For half a century, NBS has given thousands of people a template for small group studies that make people think without telling them what to think. Q Place carries on this mission but also takes it a step further: Q Place seeks to reach out to people wherever they may be in their spiritual life, whether they are an atheist, a spiritual seeker, a new believer, or a life-long Christian. Q Place believes that everyone not only benefits from but also deserves having a place where everyone can openly ask questions(Question-Place, yeah) without suffering through dogmatic religiosity stuffed down their throats.
One of Q Place’s core values is the belief in an individual’s inherent human dignity. In a way, this seems so obvious that we might not need list it as a core value. But if you ask me, this concept is not addressed enough. When we talk about service, and I mean real service and not just appeasing our own guilt by doing a good deed or two, I think we need frequent reminders of the value of every person and the treatment to which that person is entitled. Again, this may seem trite and obvious, but when we really stop to think about what the world thinks of Christians when we evangelize, we realize that we have not always been treating people as we would like to be treated. We are not loving our neighbor as ourselves, and as a result, we lose opportunities of sharing Christ’s love and healing with those neighbors. Consider this: What do we know about how people frequently get treated by Christians? Christians tend to be:
Though I have always been a huge fan of apologetics, I realize now that these arguments have their place: They are designed to defend the faith; they alone do not bring people to faith. If we, as Christians, want to share the transforming love that Christ has offered us, we must share it in ways that people are willing to receive it. Why are we preachy when we don’t like preachy people? Why do we argue when we don’t like confrontation? We frequently contradict ourselves in our approach.
Q Place, praise the Lord, offers an alternative. In a Q Place, the Christians in the group are simply initiators. They are instructed to wear, as we like to call it, the proverbial duct tape over their mouths. If a Christian is talking too much in a seeker Q Place, then it is not truly a Q Place. Christians, if you are reading this, suck it up. Seekers, if you are reading this, get excited, because if you have been struggling with questions about spiritual matters but didn’t know where or with whom to ask them, here is a grand opportunity to meet with people like yourselves who are seeking truth.
Many Q Places begin with Gary Poole’s book, 1001 Complete Book of Questions, which is essentially a book of ice breakers starting with questions like “How do you eat an oreo?” and ending with “If you could ask God any question, what would it be?” From here, groups can decide to go in any number of directions depending on what the members of the group collectively need. There is the Tough Questions series, which is written with no agenda, but just asks questions like “Why does God allow suffering and evil in the world?” or “Don’t all religions lead to the same place?” There are forty two questions in that series. Then there is the whole collection of Neigborhood Bible Study guides which have thematic guides as well as guides on whole books of the Bible.
I am really excited about Q Place because, though small group communities asking questions are as old as Jesus, using this method is really a paradigm shift in evangelism. It is learner-centered learning, and it is desperately needed in the mission field. It may take more work, but if you know your neighbor is struggling with spiritual questions, what better service can you render them than to help them find peace? Q Place offers Christians a way to help, and seekers a place to find it.
If you would like to partner with Q Place prayerfully and/or financially, please either contact me or visit our website at QPlace.com. If you would like to support me specifically in this work as a domestic missionary as I will be raising my own funds, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be thrilled to have you join forces with me in this work.