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"So, how do I get started talking to someone about Jesus Christ?"
Springboards to spiritual conversation
"'Do you understand what you are reading?' Philip asked." -- Acts
Lyle Pointer published a series of "spiritual conversation starters" in a little
brochure. His suggested opening lines for what have been called soul-winning or witnessing
- Do you give much thought to God and spiritual things?
- Tell me about your most memorable spiritual experience.
- What do you think is a person's greatest spiritual need?
- Tell me about your church background. Did you go to church as a child?
- How do you feel about your upbringing and your awareness of spiritual
- How would you describe your life with God now?
- How do you think a person begins a personal relationship with God?
- When did you feel closest to God?
- What factors or influences brought you nearer to God?
- What would renew that sense of closeness?
- On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being closest to God), where do you see yourself in relationship
- Where do you want to be?
- How do you see yourself moving closer to God?
- How can I encourage you to get to where you would like to be?
Dr. Pointer gives some words of advice to those wanting to use his springboards to spiritual
- Ask questions related to former conversations.
- Listen closely and be sensitive.
- Proceed only as long as your friend shows interest.
- Affirm any amount of truth or insight offered.
Additional witnessing / soul-winning resources
"The Sinner's Prayer" -- Some questions
Have people been genuinely saved through an encounter in which they pray a four-sentence
prayer that someone has prompted them with phrase by phrase? Yes, they have. Much good has
come from outreach efforts in which that simple prayer is an element.
That being said, there are questions swirling around in my mind regarding the use of "The
- Can it come across as a magical formula for being reconciled to God? Simply reciting a
prayer composed by someone else does not save anyone. Isn't it belief, repentance and
acceptance of God's grace that saves people? Still, the implication sometimes given to people is
that all they need to do to be saved is recite the brief prayer. We never give the impression that
the recitation of a pre-formulated prayer has saving power in itself. That scenario of "formula
salvation" actually is reminiscent of Roman Catholic missionaries in the 1200s who went from
Europe to Asia and baptized huge numbers of people simply because those people learned to
recite in Latin the Apostles' Creed and the Lord's Prayer. We have to be careful not to promote
that kind of "formula salvation." Sadly, in both the 1200s in Asia and sometimes in today's use of
The Sinner's Prayer, the invitation seems to be: "Repeat these words after me and you will be
- Is there a possibility that coaching someone to say a few words composed by someone else
may de-sensitize that person to the dreadfulness of sin, to the depth of depravity and to the price
Jesus paid to redeem us? The prayer is brief. An emphasis on "just say these few words and you
will be saved" may sometimes smack of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace." Don't
people need to "count the cost" of what it will mean to become a Jesus follower? The way The
Sinner's Prayer is somtimes used may open the door to trivializing the awfulness of sin,
cheapening the process of repentance, overlooking the enormous paradigm shift one undergoes in
conversion, and giving no attention to the marvelous witness of the Spirit within one's self. A
de-sensitization to all of that could easily lead to shallow conversions which end with people
who said the prayer never progressing toward a deep relationship with the Lord.
- Does how The Sinner's Prayer is often presented give the impression that we're here to punch
people's tickets to heaven? What may come across is that we are only interested in "getting
people saved" rather than the more long-term objective of "making Christlike disciples"as the
Church of the Nazarene mission statement puts it. A very narrow focus on just the moment of
conversion can lead to what has been called the "baptistification" of Nazarene theology.
To move toward making Christlike disciples, Nazarene JESUS film teams in some areas of
the world will show that film three or four times before asking people to respond. Having
multiple showings of the film before asking people to respond gives them time to think, reflect
and even talk over the changes in worldview, lifestyle and lordship which Christian conversion
would mean for them.
- Can the use of The Sinner's Prayer give people a false assurance of salvation? Who are we
to tell people they are saved because we heard them recite a prayer line by line as we gave it to
them? Isn't it possible that people have been declared saved before they have really "prayed
through" (as we used to say). Only the Holy Spirit can give true assurance of salvation. People
need to look to Him for that assurance.
- Can the way The Sinner's Prayer is used come off as a salesman's "close the deal" pitch?
With a commendable goal of getting people to enter the Kingdom, have we adopted a crassly
commercial way of "closing the deal" or "cementing the decision"? There is a danger that The
Sinner's Prayer will become the conclusion to a well-rehearsed human sales pitch. Shouldn't our
approach be that of boldly giving witness to the works of God and inviting people to respond to
the leading of the Holy Spirit as He draws people to Himself?
Asking these questions does not mean we should shy away from pointing people toward
Jesus. It does not mean we should not show them the way of salvation.
It might mean, however, that we should be careful to use The Sinner's Prayer in ways that
ensure it is a prayer coming from deep in the heart of the person saying the words.
One version of the sinner's prayer|
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for
my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and
life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior.
How should leaders respond when moral issues are at stake?
|What should leaders do when key people in a congregation have unresolved
morality issues? [ read more ]|
-- Howard Culbertson
10/40 Window explanation and
Sharing faith Age of
conversion Spiritual conversation
evangelism Faith story work
sheet Writing your
will? African martyr's
commitment Mission trip
fundraising Ways to ruin mission
statistics Nazarene Missions International
resources Ministry, Church and Society course
World missions course materials and syllabi
Howard Culbertson, 5901 NW 81st, Oklahoma City, OK 73132
| Phone: 405-740-4149
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