“God has placed you — deliberately, with intentionality — in proximity to people He is seeking to restore to Himself, people He wants to be developed to their full potential, so they can take part in His plans for the world around them.”
“I feel like I get to a certain point with her and then I just don’t know where to go next!” “I’ve invited them to church a few times but they’ve never come, I don’t know what else to say.” “I feel stuck.” “What now?”
Have you ever had similar thoughts, or made similar comments? I have! Many feel stuck at times and struggle to know “where to go next” when building relationships and discussing spiritual topics. Spirit dependence is the key and further equipping is needed. That’s the reason for this article, let’s follow the Spirit’s leading and get better at this pragmatically!
I want to briefly give you a few conversation transition tools you can use when you feel like it’s appropriate and the Spirit is leading you to engage your friends/acquaintances more deeply in the spiritual side of their life. Some of these tools came from a discussion I had with Author/Pastor Jeff Galley on my podcast discussing his amazing/free e-book called “Conversations: Turn Your Everyday Discussions into Life-Giving Moments.”
Three Conversation Transition Tools
Cultural Permission to Share Experiences
In the U.S. moral relativism/political correctness Police are essentially everywhere. We can gripe about it or use it to our advantage. The advantage: since everyone has “their own truth”, you’re free to share about yours as long as you don’t say it’s better than anyone else’s or that they’re wrong. This is a great thing because culturally we can say almost anything as long as we say “In my experience…”. In almost any conversation if you say “Would it be OK if I shared an experience I recently had?” the person will almost always say, “Sure, go ahead.” It’s not PC for them to say “No.” If you really want to earn trust you can even add “It’s spiritual in nature, is that ok to still share?” I’ve seen this work countless of times and as I mentioned it garners lots of trust because you’ve asked for permission. At this point, fire away! I.e. “So I was reading my bible earlier and it said _______ and that really spoke to me, I realized how loved I am and I didn’t need to prove myself so I could let go of my fear.” For bonus points you could follow up with “have you ever read the bible?” I’m getting ahead of myself…that’s #2…
“It’s not what you say, It’s what you ask!”
Often times we get stuck because we think it’s up to us to have the perfect response or statement but typically you transition into great conversations when you ask a transitional question. I personally like the question “What do you mean when you say _____?” As an example, I was with a friend recently that asked me “Do you look to your faith to get you through tough times?” I could have responded “Yes, of course” which is a true statement, however I know she doesn’t follow Jesus so that would’ve been unhelpful. Instead I said “I always talk to God when tough times come, but I want to make sure I answer you correctly, what do you mean when you say “my faith”? This is kind of an easy one because she started the spiritual conversation, however when she defined faith in her terms I now understood where she was coming from and was able to respond with “Oh I see, thanks for sharing. Typically, when I think of “my faith” I’m talking about _______ (that’s a Gospel fill-in-the-blank opportunity). Do you see how I had received “permission”? By allowing her to share how she defines “faith”, I was also able to share my perspective and share the Gospel in a way that totally applied to our conversation about hard times and defining “faith”.
It’s Always Safe to Assume You Don’t Fully Understand
The reality is, you don’t fully understand people’s worldviews, emotions, etc. even those closest to you. So in other words, “let curiosity be your guide.” This is a great tool because curiosity removes you from the “probing” posture and allows you to fully listen as if it’s your first-time hearing. It sounds overly simplistic but “play dumb” in a way. Think of it on the opposite hand, isn’t it irritating to share things with “know-it-alls” or people who only respond, “Oh totally”, “Oh, I know”, etc. It’s so much more engaging to hear “Oh, what’s that like?”, “Tell me more about _______,” etc.
For instance, you have a neighbor that you run into at the mailbox and he’s complaining about his kids’ behavior. Instead of jumping on the “band-wagon” and saying “oh man, I know what you mean my kids are nuts too!” Don’t say that! Be curious! Instead, say something like “Ya we’ve had some of those types of situations…how are you guys planning to address that situation?” You acknowledged that you heard his grief and can relate to some level but then you transitioned it into a question about action steps they might be taking. After this point you can also ask a questions like “What are the biggest influencers on your parenting style/process?” or “What is the ideal outcome for your kids?” Let curiosity be your guide and avoid unsolicited advice at all costs.
As Jeff Galley says, “God has placed you — deliberately, with intentionality — in proximity to people He is seeking to restore to Himself, people He wants to be developed to their full potential, so they can take part in His plans for the world around them.” Let’s go!
I hope this article will be encouraging, equipping and potentially useful to read together at an MC gathering around a meal and discuss where the Spirit is leading each of you to grow in your Gospel Fluency and conversational intentionality.
Download Galley’s book for FREE HERE.
My Podcast Conversation with Jeff Galley HERE.
Discussion Questions For Your MC:
- What from this article was most helpful or encouraging to you? What is an action step you can take?
- What are culturally/contextual realities that may help us build bridges to spiritual common ground with people in our city?
- What is a good question you think you should start asking more often to go deeper with people?
- What would it look like to “lead with curiosity” with someone you know currently that doesn’t know Jesus yet?
- Who are some people that you want to intentionally engage that we (as an MC) can all begin to pray for?
What are the barriers you experience that keep you from having gospel conversations?
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