God in the Backseat
On June 28, 2018, my car was filled with everything valuable to me as I drove on Interstate 20, towards the city of brotherly love. Since 2009 Philadelphia had been on my heart as the place God was sending me. When I finally arrived in Philadelphia, I felt like a sunflower ready to blossom and share all my joy and positivity with the city. As I was settling in, I pondered ways I could meet and interact with people peacefully (Luke 10). I thought about sitting in the local coffee shop daily as I did when I was the spiritual formation pastor at the Oak Gardens Church; however, my gut communicated that I needed to find a way to touch people at a higher volume.
So I stumbled into driving for Lyft. At first, I wrestled with the idea of driving for Lyft because of my academic, professional, and entrepreneurial pedigree, but God, as always, humbled me. Though it took me a while to accept this assignment, God began to show up in my backseat day in and day out. As conversations took place between my passengers and me, I began to realize that God was sending people my way who would eventually be a part of the ministries and initiatives I was being led to establish in the city. As God continued to show up in my backseat, I knew driving for Lyft was something many church planters should be made aware of as they seek to join God’s mission.
Here are a few things I’ve learned while driving for Lyft, as God showed up in my backseat.
Have a talking point
When someone enters your car, you want to have talking points that spark conversation. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. In fact, I suggest that it be something small. For instance, I have boxing gloves hanging around my rearview mirror, and many asked if I boxed. I would respond by saying that I do not box; the gloves represent my Haitian ethnicity. Sometimes it would be my West Indian music that drew curiosity about where I am from. This sparked more dialogue, eventually leading me to answering why I moved to Philly. At this point, you must have a clear vision that solves a need, and that is attractive. Be sure to speak with vibrancy as you share a little bit about yourself while asking questions that will inform you about them.
Have a clear, relatable vision
When someone enters your car and a conversation is sparked, be prepared to answer with a clear vision as to why you have moved to the city or why you are doing what you are planning to do in the city. Do not use Scripture or spiritual language unless you feel that the passenger knows the language. Use everyday, relatable language that reveals your captivating vision. Whatever your ministry or initiative is, be sure that it is easy to join and participate in without pressure. Listen carefully to not only the words your passenger uses, but also how they speak. This is essential as it will lead you to use relatable words and style. This will allow conversation to flow naturally.
Flow with the moment
When someone enters your car, it is always good to be polite and ask, “How are you?” and, “How was your day?” Pay attention to not only what is said, but how it is said. Notice the vibe and energy that someone brings into your car. The way the customer answers your question will indicate whether they desire to carry a conversation. Please note, however, someone may be in a bad mood and still spark a conversation with you. In any case, always be ready to speak when the moment welcomes it, and also be ready to be silent when the customer doesn’t appear to want to speak. At any moment, be a part of the flow. Do not be overzealous or shy. Just be in the moment. You never know, the person may be a potential partner in ministry.
Exchange contact information
When conversation is good and the customer is preparing to exit your car, notice if there is an opportunity to continue the conversation at a later date. Often the customer will ask for some contact information or your business card. Be sure to have business cards or marketing flyers with your information available upon request. Quite often, passengers asked for my business card or a flyer, and I was unprepared. It took me months to realize that I was driving for Lyft to meet the people of peace in the backseat. This is why I am writing this article—so you can learn from my slowness. Be ready to share your contact information so people can follow up with you. If they provide their contact information, be sure to follow up with them.
A blessing: be safe
After a delightful conversation, many would not only take my card, but would leave my vehicle and say, “Be safe.” I didn't really process this statement until I witnessed several car accidents while driving, or when I was almost in a collision myself. As I reflected on those moments, the statement “be safe” rested on my heart, and I realized that the people who were exiting my vehicle, whether intentionally or unintentionally, were washing a blessing over my life as I served them. As you are servicing the people of peace, or dare I say God, who shows up in your backseat, receive the blessings they give you. No matter what their color, religion, or orientation may be, there are good people in the world whom God is using to send you a blessing. So as you drive for Lyft or work in any service that will introduce you to people, God has a message for you: be safe.
“And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matt. 28:20).