Did you know there were aliens mentioned in the Bible?
I didn’t either until I had a pop-in at the office one day years ago. He made small talk and asked if I had a King James Bible, my great grandfather’s was on the shelf and he eagerly started flipping through it wanting to “show me something”. I don’t remember all the details but basically he was saying that aliens were in the Bible and somehow the Illuminati were involved. There was also something about identification implants and the Mark of the Beast.
Through the whole conversation I did a lot of nodding and said “I don’t know about that.”
I find that as a pastor I have these types of conversations more than I anticipated. Sure they aren’t usually about aliens, but about the end of the world coming or political conspiracy theories. Now I think that these conversations should occur but the action points shouldn’t involve tin foil and stockpiling weapons.
So what do you do to redeem these conversations?
Set Clear Boundaries
The first week of a small group I was in the leader was laying out the expectations and flatly said that politics were not going to be discussed in the group. It was nice not to have to worry about that.
Next time you ambushed by “bomb-shelter Carl” just clearly state that you aren’t interested in participating in that sort of conversation. Tell them you aren’t concerned with how the world ends, only that you know it is going to and there is still work to be done.
Ask Rational Questions
I’m not saying these people are crazy, but maybe they have a bit too much time on their hands. Most likely they have been caught up in a bit of hysteria, caused by someone trying to drive ratings, sell books, or increase traffic.
A genuine question may what they need.
Change the subject. Not to sports or the weather but to something more important. The perspective that can be giving to someone in asking about their own discipleship is a gift. If you really believe there are more important issues than as a leader you are compelled to help them define what is really important.
These ideas might save you a bit the next time you get cornered on a Sunday morning and end up setting next to your crazy 2nd cousin at the family reunion. Or you might start digging a hole in your backyard and filling it with bottled water and spam.