I have a confession to make: we often make mission and missions way too complicated. We hotly debate strategies and the most effective methods, and we sometimes have policy manuals the size of old, dusty encyclopedias. While we should certainly hash out plans for reaching the world and while structure is not a bad thing, when it comes down to it, being a missionary is pretty basic: we love people and we share the good news of Jesus Christ with them.
Part of loving and sharing is simply being a good conversationalist. I ran across the following article from East-West Ministries the other day. Their mission is “to mobilize the Body of Christ to evangelize the lost and equip local believers to multiply disciples and churches among the unreached.” Pretty worthwhile, no? But to do all that, you have to start meaningful conversations. While you’re reading, think about the last conversation you had with an unbeliever that went deeper than small talk and eventually led to spiritual topics. What if you had several of those every week? People, families, and maybe entire communities would start to change!
Jesus gave His followers a mission—to preach the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15). For many believers, though, it’s a challenge to daily live out this mission.
Living missionally requires seeing the everyday opportunities to share the gospel or point people to Jesus Christ. One of the best ways to do this is simply to have a conversation with them. Here are a few tips for starting a conversation and connecting it to spiritual topics.
The first step to transitioning into a conversation about spiritual matters is to start the conversation. Without that, there is no conversation to transition.
It seems like common sense, but we often miss or even avoid opportunities to have spiritual conversations. Fear or uncertainty keep us from taking the first step of obedience. Pray to God before engaging with someone, and then just begin to talk.
2. Ask questions
A great way to start a conversation or bridge into spiritual topics is to ask people questions. In fact, asking more about them shows genuine interest and helps people relax. And it’s a great way to listen for tidbits that can help transition into a gospel conversation.
Ask about their lives, their families, or even their opinions on a topic. Getting their opinion on a topic loosely related to spiritual matters is a great way to lead the conversation to Jesus.
3. Listen more than you talk
You can’t get to know someone if you’re doing all the talking. Once you ask questions, be sure to listen intently and actively to get to know the person.
People’s responses will often point you in the direction of their hearts and help you find common ground or keywords that will help you find the time and place to connect the conversation to God. Don’t constantly think about what you’re going to say next. Take time to hear the person you’re talking to.
4. Look out for keywords and common ground
If you’re asking questions and listening, then you will be able to pick up on what a person cares about or what experiences you both share.
Do they have a family? Are they going through a hard time? What do they love to do? These are all great places to start when finding common ground or natural places to steer the conversation to deeper topics.
5. Shift the conversation gently
Once you’ve gotten to know the person a little and have found common ground or shared experiences, you can begin to shift the conversation toward spiritual topics.
You can do this through more questions or by offering to pray for them. These will bring responses that often lead to talking about Jesus in a way that’s relevant and not overwhelming.
Great ways to begin a spiritual topic are to ask what the person believes about God or if they have a faith. After they respond, you can ask if you can share what you believe and then share the gospel.
6. Connect again
Maybe you shared the gospel or maybe you just got to encourage a fellow believer. Either way, you should make a point to connect with them again.
Leave your contact information for them to get in touch with you if they want to talk further, or—if you think they need more connection—get their contact information so you can be the one to reach out.
Disciples are not made in a moment, but you can help someone on their spiritual journey by making a point to start conversations and connect with them spiritually.
How have you successfully started spiritual conversations with people?