Almost every Christian I know has a deep desire to tell friends, family, and coworkers how they can have a relationship with Christ. But the most common reason we don’t “go there” is we are not sure how to do it without being perceived as pushy, judgmental, or awkward. So we wait, and wait, hoping the other person brings up the topic– and when that that doesn’t happen we can easily get discouraged.
Here are 5 simple steps to have a spiritual conversation with anybody without feeling pushy, awkward or judgmental.
Step 1. Read. Believe it or not it’s one of the best things you can do to share your faith because it gives you something to talk about. Read whatever you find interesting – news articles, blogs, books – anything to stimulate your mind. Because when your mind is stimulated, it’s easier to have meaningful, significant conversations with people. You don’t have to read for hours. Just reading for 10 minutes a day can make a huge difference in your ability to get into spiritual conversations with people.
Step 2. As you read, identify connections to your faith in Christ and questions that come to mind. For example, I recently read an article title “Analytical Thinking Weakens Religious Belief.” It was an article directly related to faith that raised important questions. Making mental notes of such questions helps you get into spiritual conversations down the road. But the books or articles you read don’t have to be spiritual. They could be on any topic. For example, you may see an article on marriage or divorce that never mentions anything about faith. The very fact that faith is not mentioned in the article may be worth noting. Why did the author leave out the subject of faith? The combination of reading and identifying connections to your faith is very helpful because it primes your mind for spiritual conversations. It gives you meaningful topics to discuss with your friends as well as questions that will steer the conversation a spiritual direction.
Step 3. Share with your friends the things you are reading – or better yet, ask them, “Have you read anything good lately?” As your friends share what they are reading your mind will be used to making spiritual connections and asking good questions. For example, if your friend is reading a book on leadership you could ask, “What does the author say are the most important character traits in leadership?” Or, “I’ve often wondered if a person’s belief in God is a help or hindrance to them being a better leader. What do you think?” Don’t feel pressured to linger long on a spiritual topic or to force a conversation in a particular direction. Simply ask a good question and see where it leads. If the conversation turns deep, great. If it doesn’t, no problem. You will certainly have other opportunities. If you can’t think of a good question in the moment, you can always follow up later and say, “I’ve been thinking more about what you said about ____ (topic) the other day, and wanted to ask you more about that.”
Step 4. Listen well and reflect back what your friends are saying. This is where I have often blown it. Once a spiritual conversation comes up, I’m so eager to share what I think or believe I find it hard to really listen to the other person. Over the years I’ve learned (the hard way) that it’s much more important to listen and understand another person’s perspective than to explain my own. “Tell me more about that,” or “Why do you feel/think that way?” are questions that draw people out and keep them from feeling defensive. You don’t have to argue or debate with them. Just listen and reflect back what you hear them saying. At some point, they will likely ask what you think, which will give you an open door to share your faith. If not, you can always follow up later. Which leads to the last step…
Step 5. Follow up with your friend after the conversation. After your friend has had a chance to share what they think, regardless of whether or not you were able to share your perspective, the door is now open for you to have a follow up conversation. One way to re-open the conversation is to share with them an article on the topic you discussed. “I was thinking about our conversation the other day and thought you might find this article interesting.” (Click here on sending a article with spiritual content to a friend.) Or the next time you are with them you can say, “I’ve been thinking more about what you said the other day and would love to share with you some time my thoughts on the topic.”
Once your get in the habit of talking with people spiritually, it becomes increasingly easy to “go there” in a gentle, tactful way. And once you have had a meaningful spiritual conversation with a friend it’s much easier to talk specifically about the Christian faith.
For additional tips on sharing your faith visit: www.CruPressGreen.com.
Pete Kelly has worked for 20 years in collegiate ministry, seven of those in Leadership Development. He now serves as an Executive Director of Fund Development with Cru. To read more from Pete's blog, go to http://christcenteredleaders.wordpress.com.
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