138 Dirksen Drive, DeBary, FL US 32713
by Wayne and Dee Johnson
Hi! We heard you want to share Christ with your friend, but you have no idea how to bring up the subject. We understand. Often, our greatest struggle in sharing our faith in Christ is fear, and perhaps the greatest challenge that arises from this fear is found in initiating the conversation. If you can relate and find that fear makes it difficult to share your faith, let’s see what advice the Bible can give us to overcome this challenge, and examine four simple tips for starting the conversation.
Jesus sets a great example for how to initiate spiritual conversations. If you read John chapters two, three, and four, you will notice two key principles. The first is that Jesus willingly made room for people to interrupt his schedule. Whether he was at a wedding (John 2:1-12), at home resting (John 3:1-15), or traveling (John 4) he allowed himself to be interrupted and take the opportunity to engage in a spiritual conversation. We know a couple who prays every morning for divine opportunities to share Christ. They expect God to answer their prayer, so they consciously look for those opportunities.
We rub shoulders with many people every day, so be alert for potential opportunities to initiate a spiritual conversation.
The second principle we see in Jesus’ examples is that he often used questions in his conversations. This is an excellent way to interact with people because it communicates that we are interested in them. We want to understand what they think and why they think as they do. Asking a question is the only way to learn about a person, so when we ask a question we have to take time to listen. When we do this, we are more likely to learn what their real need is and the Holy Spirit can speak to that need through us. Here are four helpful strategies you can use to initiate a spiritual conversation with the people God places in your path.
- “Tell me about yourself.”
One of our favorite conversation starters is “I’d love to hear about your spiritual journey.” Everyone has a spiritual journey which they are eager to share. They might be religious, indifferent, or even hostile to the idea of religion, but let them share their journey. Listen and be centered on them. Ask them questions that help you understand their journey, but don’t try to control the conversation or correct what they are saying. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you to ways you can point out how God’s grace may have been operative in their life, even if they weren’t aware. Then, at some point, you can ask, “Could I share with you my spiritual journey?” If they permit you, you can share your own story (we’ll get to this shortly) and what it really means to be a follower of Christ.
- Break the Ice
We also love these four simple questions that easily and naturally open up a spiritual conversation. Learn them and get comfortable asking them.
- What did you think of _________________?
- Did it make sense to you?
- Have you discovered knowing Christ personally?
- Would you like to?
These four questions can apply to all kinds of situations. You can give your friend something to read, you might watch a movie with Christian themes, or perhaps you bring them to church. These are perfect opportunities to follow up with the four questions. In fact, The Bible Chapel has a wonderful opportunity for you to try these questions! January 27-28 is Friendship Weekend. Our guest will be a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers who will share his spiritual journey. Invite a friend to join you, then afterward initiate a conversation about the guest’s testimony by asking, “What did you think of what our speaker said?” etc.
- What’s on the other side?
Evangelism Explosion – an evangelism training organization – uses two questions that we find very helpful in some situations. Suppose you are talking about religion in some way. For example, you could be discussing what happens after death. Here are a couple of questions that can lead you more deeply into that conversation.
- Do you think there is a heaven? If you were to die tonight are you sure that you would go to heaven?
- If you were to die tonight and stand before God, how would you answer if he asked you, “Why should I let you into my heaven?”
Be sure to let your friend explain their answer. If they do believe in heaven, there’s a good chance they are trusting in good works to get them in. You can transition by saying, “many people believe that a moral life is what gets us into heaven, but the Bible tells us that is not the answer. Can I share with you what the Bible’s answer to that question is?” Using the Romans Road or a tool like Knowing God Personally (see the links at the end of this post), you can explain the Gospel. Again, you can use the four questions to solidify your discussion: What do you think of this? Does it make sense? Have you discovered how to know God personally? Would you like to?
- Be Prepared
In 1 Peter 3:15, we are told to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” That hope is our confidence in our present and future with God because of our relationship with Jesus Christ. One of the best ways to “give an answer” is to tell our own story. Your story is your unique spiritual journey marked by God’s unique redemptive work in your life. It’s not simply relating the facts of the Gospel, although that is part of it; it is how God reached into your life, drew you to himself, and led you to trust in his sacrifice for your sins. It’s how you follow after him and allow him to change your life. If you haven’t done so before, you can think through your personal spiritual journey by getting some paper and writing out answers to these three questions:
- What was my life like before Christ?
- How did I come to recognize my need for Christ? What did I understand about committing to follow Christ, and what led me to take this step?
- How has God changed me since I received Christ?
Better yet, tell your story to a Christian friend using these three questions. Ask him or her to take notes and even ask you questions about your story. Knowing your story and being prepared to talk about it on the spur of the moment is a great way to apply 1 Peter 3:15.
Finally, 1 Peter 3:15-16 continues, “But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” It is so important to treat everyone with gentleness and respect, especially when we are sharing Christ. Many more spiritual conversations will naturally take place when we approach our friends this way.
So, the next time you break into conversation with an old friend over coffee, share a lunch hour with a coworker or have a casual conversation with a family member who needs to hear the Gospel, keep these tips in mind. Prayerfully let the Holy Spirit direct your words, and don’t be surprised when your conversation turns to the eternal hope we have in Christ.
Here at The Bible Chapel we periodically offer a class called Initiating Spiritual Conversations. This class offers many tools to build our confidence in engaging spiritually with non-Christians. Keep an eye out for this class. We’d love to have you join us.
Additional Rescources to help you in your conversations: