Talking to people about God and forgiveness and salvation

If lost people matter to you the way they matter to God, what would your life look like?

How do we shift friendly conversations from sports and the weather to talking about spiritual matters? How do we springboard into conversations about inviting Jesus into one's life?

"We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard" -- Acts 4:20 — Peter and John to the Sanhedrin court)

What do you fear the most about inviting those in your lifespace to "come and see Jesus" at your church fellowship?

Half of the unchurched Americans surveyed by the Gallup polling organization said they intend to return to active church participation some day. Of that group, one in five said they would start back to church if someone would just talk to them about spiritual matters.

So, how do you shift a conversation from talking about sports, the weather, children, and news headlines to talking about a relationship with God and a redemptive, transformative relationship with Him? How do we turn the corner and move toward talking about spiritual things?

Look through this list. See how easy it cam be to test if there is an open door for you to talk about spiritual matters with:

  1. Someone you just met
  2. A long-time acquaintance
  3. A good friend
  4. A family member or a "best" friend

Some of the questions will initiate conversations that could be labeled pre-evangelism.

This list is not meant to be put on a piece of paper that you pull out of your pocket or purse as you start talking to someone. These questions are given to demonstrate the variety of ways that a door can be opend and the conversation shifted to talking with friends and family on a deeper level.

When you ask a question like one of those below, listen carefully to the person's response. Don't be more concerned about what you are going to say next than you are about what the person is saying to you!

People sharing faith: Spiritual conversation openers

General issues

  1. What gives most meaning to your life?
  2. What, or who, are your sources of strength in your day-to-day living?
  3. When you have problems or crises, how do you manage to get through them?
  4. Is religion or God important to you?

Relationship questions

  1. Does God (or a Higher Power) seem personal to you?
  2. Do you feel close to or far away from God?
  3. What do you imagine that God is like?
  4. Can you point to things that God has done for you?
  5. How is God working in your life right now?
  6. Are you comfortable with what you understand to be God's guidelines and laws for living?
  7. Do you feel there are barriers of some type separating you from God?
  8. Have you ever been mad or upset with God?
  9. Have you ever done something for which you feel God could not forgive you?
  10. Do you understand the way to forgiveness and what it means?
  11. Do you think God has a plan for each person's life?
  12. What would it take for you to live up to what God expects of you?

Devotional life and practice

  1. What kinds of religious material do you like to read?
  2. What are your favorite authors, writings?
  3. Do you like religious music? Kinds? Favorites?
  4. Have you read much of the Bible?
  5. Do you understand the Bible when you read it?
  6. Does Bible reading help in living? How?
  7. Is prayer a meaningful part of your devotional life?
  8. Do you feel there is spiritual growth going on right now in your life?

The Church

  1. Are you involved in a church?
  2. What do you get out of being involved in a church?
  3. Which teachings of your church resonate the most with you?
  4. Do you personally know anyone who is the pastor of a church?
  5. Are you a member of an accountability or nurturing group in your church?

Religion and illness, dying and death

  1. Has being ill made any difference in your thinking or feeling about God or your religious faith?
  2. How has being ill affected your devotional life?
  3. When you are ill, do you ever feel that God may be punishing you or that it is His will for you to be sick?
  4. How do you feel about suffering?
  5. Do you trust God with your future?

For additional information on ministry to the terminally ill, see "Six don'ts for ministry to the dying."

The above questions are based on a list compiled by Harvey Elder for mental health counselors to use in personal history-taking.

Wouldn't you like to have faith in something?

"Help me overcome my unbelief!" -- Mark 9:24

Leading a friend to faith in Christ

Dr. Brint Montgomery, former professor of philosophy at Southern Nazarene University, starts conversations with those struggling in their spiritual journey by asking the question: "Wouldn't you like to have faith in something?"

He then tries to lead a conversation through five steps:

  1. Admit to yourself that it is at least possible there is a God.
  2. Isn't daily life often an unsatisfactory affair?
  3. Ask yourself: "What would a meaningful life look like?"
  4. Commit yourself to becoming a new person.
  5. Evaluate whether the Church has something to offer [ more info ].

This is usually not a journey that is completed in one conversation. It is more of a process than an event.


"Without God" graphic from a Church Ad Project poster:

Additional witnessing / soul-winning resources

"Stand still? NEVER! Not while the promises of revival are still unknown for this generation. Not while Christ is still a stranger to countless lost and dying souls around the world. Not while there is still one blind and stubborn heart that refuses to give praise and honor to our King Jesus!" — David Smithers

Is conversion a moment in time or is it a process?

Click hereWhat are the changes which occur in people as they come to faith in Christ? Should attempts at sharing our faith with other people take into account the journey they are on? [ read more ]

     -- Howard Culbertson

Ministry, Church and Society course resources

Resources on sharing one's faith in Jesus Christ:   Age of conversion   Conversation starters   Cultivating relationships   Jewish evangelism   Relational evangelism   Faith story work sheet   Writing your testimony

Short-term missions resources   Key chapters of the Bible   Two churches' attitudes toward missions   Ten ways to avoid becoming a missionary   Difficult group members   Do you have a global missions call?   "Lord, teach us to pray"   Nazarene Missions International resources page