FORKS Open Lives

from Shane's Muslim Connect

Summer’s most explosive holiday is just around the corner! For Americans, Independence Day is a big deal: A chance to thank God for the privilege of living in this country, to gather with friends and family, and to blow stuff up! 

It is also prime calendar real estate for inviting over Muslim friends or those you’d like to become your friends. (I still owe a fireworks-related debt to an Afghan family in England who years ago graciously invited my family to join their Bonfire Night celebration.) 

Imagine that you invited a Muslim family to your 4th of July BBQ, and they showed up! Happily, you’re grilling halal chicken instead of some tasty but haram pork product, and it’s Pepsi not PBR in the cooler. 

Having nailed the food, a fresh panic arises in your mind: “What do we talk about?!” Blake Glosson’s article, “The Neglected Ministry of Asking Questions” gives us a memorable and super helpful rubric: FORKS. Ask your guests about their:

Family: Most people feel comfortable talking about kids and siblings. If you venture deeper to share about a deceased parent, some real bonds form. 

Occupation: It’s the classic “What do you do?” Shallow? Maybe. But imminently answerable and pregnant with follow-up question possibilities. 

Recreation: What do you and your family/friends do for fun? 

Knowledge: Everyone is at least a little bit of an expert on something. “Can you tell me about that?” “Can you show me?” Or the best, “Can you teach us about that?” Tons of honor rolls across the table with these questions.

Spirituality: If you’re going to talk, you might as well talk for real. If you’re at all like me, spiritual conversations might be a little scary but worth it.

The next time you have a chance, pick up the FORKS and take a stab at this. I’d love to hear how it goes. 

As you probably already considered, this rubric works great on most people, from Hindus to father-in-laws.