We can talk freely with our friends about many subjects, but are at a loss when we want to bridge the gap between everyday life and the Lord.
What does driving to work every morning or playing golf or washing the dishes or changing the baby have to do with our spiritual lives?
The tension here is between manipulating a conversation vs raising curiosity for authentic spiritual discussion.
If evangelism is your ulterior motive for having this conversation, then your conversation will be manipulative because you are wanting to control it to get to your point.
The following suggestions are adapted from Evangelism for the Fainthearted by Floyd Schneider, copyright (c) 2000.
The process for spiritual conversation:
Ask the Lord to guide your thoughts and comments as you approach a person.
Ask Him to work in your friend.
It is God who does the work. You just have to begin the process.
2. Surface talk.
This level of conversation is the perfect starting place for an evangelistic conversation.
Talk about the weather, the slow service in the shop, the Little League game, sports, etc.
Mention something that opens your life up just a little. Then, casually ask the acquaintance about that same area of his or her life.
Example: Have you lived here long? Be sure that you really listen to what the person has to say.
3. Personal talk.
You will never run out of things to talk about: ask questions about the person’s birthplace, hometown family, education, work, vacations, retirement, interests, and hobbies.
Once a subject has been mentioned, ask a question about it.
Attempt to establish some common interests with the person. Be a good listener and use their name in the conversation. Check their body language to see if the person is comfortable with the direction of the conversation.
4. Religious talk.
The first levels of conversation are pre-evangelism. They build rapport.
Don’t assume that a stranger or acquaintance doesn’t want to talk about religious things. Even atheists like talking about their views of God and most people appreciate having someone ask them about themselves and listening to their ideas or their problems in life.
Talk about religion, churches, or church activities. A listening ear may be the very thing that causes a person to seek God.
Example: “On weekends we usually go hiking on Saturday, then we eat out in a restaurant after church. Do you attend church?”
If the friend is not interested at this time, retreat to step three. Don’t push the gospel on anyone. Don’t feel guilty or become discouraged and quit witnessing altogether. Leave the results to God.
5. Spiritual talk.
Ask yourself, Does this person’s actions and attitudes indicate that he or she wants to talk about spiritual things? If you sense an openness after the religious talk, you can do several things:
- Invite him or her to visit your church. Be sure to meet at the door and sit together.
- Talk about what Christ has done for you. Keep your story simple or just share a few incidents.
- Ask the person two questions: If you were to die today, could you say for certain that you will go to heaven? Why should God let you into His heaven?
- Share the gospel with him or her. Keep the message as simple as possible.
- Give a religious book that has a message of hope and get together in a few weeks to discuss it.
- If the friend is not seeking at this time, retreat to step four.
Order your copy of Evangelism for the Fainthearted by Floyd Schneider from Amazon (affiliate link).