step by step guide to having Jesus conversations with nonbelievers
Ew, conversations. Ew, talking to people. Ew, having to wear pants to go outside to talk to people. All the introverts in the house, can I get an AMEN? (for reals, scroll down and comment an AMEN)
Let’s be real. Talking to people is hard, especially spiritual topics that may or may not affect someone’s whole eternity. But we gotta do it because Jesus commanded us.
"Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NLT)
You know the story. Your preacher said, “Hey, man, we gotta tell people about Jesus,” and you felt that tug from the Holy Spirit to GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES. So, you’re all excited and fired up…and then you think about who you need to talk to…and what you’re going to say…and how they will probably respond…and then all of a sudden you’re making weird gurgling noises and freaking out because YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO DO THIS.
That’s where this post comes in. I’m going to share with you all the little tips that I’ve picked up along the way. We’ll figure out how to find someone to talk to, how to effectively have those spiritual conversations (hopefully without looking like a holy-roller stinkhead), and how to lead someone to Christ.
So, say a prayer, cross your legs because there are no pee breaks, and get ready!
1.) Pray, pray, pray, and pray some more.
"Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results." (James 5:16 NLT)
I know, I know. So obvious. But it’s the most important step to this whole process. Prayer is ridiculously powerful, and without it, we can do nothing. To be a disciple and share Jesus with others, you need to start your day on your knees (literally, if you can) because it puts your heart in the right place and readies your for what’s to come. Pray for God to show you 1-3 people to pray for and initiate conversations with. Pray for the Holy Spirit to help you. Pray that God will give you the words to say and the actions to do. Pray for that person’s heart to be softened to truth. Pray that you will have the boldness to do whatever God asks of you. Pray for God to do something big. How much you pray will affect how much is done. (Tweet this!)
This is a Pinterest board filled with a whole bunch of prayer resources if you want to check it out!
2.) Trust God.
“And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said.” (Luke 12: 11-12 NLT)
After you’ve prayed it up, let it go. Trust God to provide for you and to give you the words to say. Surrender the outcome to Him, because He knows what He’s doing. Stop fretting, stop panicking, stop fearing, and trust the One who goes before you and makes a way for you.
3.) Initiate a conversation with that person.
"For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it." (James 1:23-25 NLT)
Don’t wait for that person to come to you, go to them! Take initiative in faith. Walk up to that person, SMILE, say hello. Be friendly. Be awkward. Be weird. What matters is that you’re there and you’re obeying God. He’s got the rest.
4.) Find common ground.
"Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone." (Colossians 4:6 NLT)
Okay, so you’ve walked up to the person, and said hello. What now? Now, my friend, you find something that you have in common with this person. Sports, movies, books, food, music, dreams, memories — it’s all up for grabs! Talk to them about it. And pray (in your head) as you’re talking to them. This builds trust between you and that person, and that is of utmost importance. Trust is how people will actually listen to you and take what you’re saying to heart. BUILD THAT TRUST!
Here’s the hard part: knowing the right time to bring up spiritual topics. Sometimes, sharing Jesus with others comes after talking to them and building a relationship with them. You might want to just small talk with them for a few days to build that trust. Invite them to lunch or for coffee to continue the conversation at another time. Or, if you feel led, go ahead and jump into the deep questions. The important thing is that you do as you feel called.
5.) Bring up spiritual topics.
"Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way.Keep your conscience clear." (1 Peter 3:15-16 NLT)
Don’t say, “Rebellious sinner, your wretchedness needs Jesus or your soul will burn in the lake of fire.” That's just not cool. The Gospel is about love, not fear, so don’t try to scare someone into loving Jesus. That’s not how this works. Instead, be nice and easygoing about it. You know how we just talked about finding common ground? Yeah? Well, if you’re really good, you can tie that in with a spiritual topic.
For example, my mother died when I was little, and that was the catalyst for me coming to know Jesus. The person I’m talking to lost a parent, also. I can use that thing in common to bring up how God used losing my parent to lead me to Him. Make sense? Use that common ground, use that trust.
Possible questions that you can ask:
Did you go to church a lot growing up? What was that like for you?
If you could ask God one question, what would you ask?
Invite to Bible study, church, dinner
6.) Listen, and then listen some more.
"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry." (James 1:19 NLT)
Do not try to shove your beliefs (however right they may be) down someone’s throat. I repeat, DO NOT SHOVE YOUR BELIEFS DOWN SOMEONE’S THROAT. Respect where they are, and love them to God. Listen to them. Listen to what they are saying and what they’re not saying. Ask questions. Ask why they think the way they do or what made them believe what they believe. Pray for them in your head while they’re talking. Or, if you feel led, ask them if you can pray for them right then, out loud, awkwardness and all. Be present, be loving, be respectful.
Suggestion: make a joke.
"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person's strength." (Proverbs 17:22 NLT)
Laughter builds that trust, too. It heals. It invites people in. Making a joke and laughing lets people know that you’re approachable.
7.) Share what God did in you.
"And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die." (Revelation 12:11 NLT)
Odds are, you can probably relate to what they just told you somehow. Use that. Use your experience to tell them how good God is. People can argue about everything except your own personal testimony. Be real. Be honest. Tell your story, because it has power. In Acts, Paul used his testimony A LOT and it was the most powerful tool he had in getting people to believe in Christ. In the same way, your testimony is the most powerful tool you have in sharing Christ with others.
8.) Share the Good News.
"And then he told them, 'Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.'" (Mark 16:15 NLT)
This is the moment of truth, the moment we've all been waiting for. It's show time. Sharing the Gospel doesn't have to be wordy or intense. It just has to be sincere. Keep it simple and loving. You can share the Gospel in 10 words: Jesus died for our sins and rose from the grave. (Tweet this!) Then, tell them how repenting and following Jesus changed your life!
Here are ways to share the Gospel:
This one is easy to do if you have access to something to write with and on. Can be used for people who learn well with pictures. (Napkins and lipstick are perfectly acceptable!)
This is a free app that leads people through the Gospel (in different languages, too!). It's simple and easy to use, and you really don't have to do much.
9.) Answer questions.
"For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires." (Hebrews 4:12 NLT)
Now, they may be confused, angry, hesitant, weirded out, you name it. That's cool. Go with it. Ask if they have questions. They might. Answer them patiently, lovingly, and to the best of your ability. If you don't know something that they ask you, that's fine, too! Tell them that you don't know but that you'll look it up and find the answer for them. This makes you look human and approachable, and it also sets up another conversation that you can have about Christ with that person!
10.) Trust God with whatever happens.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take." (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)
They may not accept Christ right there and then, and that's totally fine. You did your job and obeyed Christ, and that's what counts. You planted the seed, and maybe somebody else will be able to harvest it. Pray for them some more, and trust that God has got this under control. Besides, it's not your job to save people -- it's God's.
If you do get to see someone want to accept Christ, that's freaking awesome! Check out Wholeheartedly Messy's Statement of Faith page to see an example prayer that you can lead them through.
11.) Live it out.
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." (Matthew 5:14-16 NLT)
People, specifically that person who you talked to, will be watching to see if your actions back up your beliefs. If they do, this shows them that you REALLY believe in what you're saying. It makes you credible. So, live out your beliefs and be a light in this dark, dark world.
This resource has all the steps that we've talked about and more! So check it out if you need some more info :)
And that's basically it. No one died. No one was chased by angry Huns. Sharing the Gospel is really simple if you pray and trust God with whatever happens. Always remember that it isn't your job to save people -- it's God's.
Now go out into the world and build God's kingdom!