What is Conversational Evangelism?
Simply put, conversational evangelism is sharing God's word with people in everyday conversation. Hopefully, these conversations will lead people to study God's word with us in a home study, or while attending church with us.
Pray About It
We learn from the apostle Paul, that prayer is important in our efforts to bring people to Christ through the gospel.
Paul commanded the Colossians to devote themselves to prayer while also praying for him. He asked them to pray that God would open a door for the word, and that he would speak forth the mystery of Christ, making it clear, in the way he ought to speak (Col. 4:2-4).
Paul also asked the Ephesians to pray for him and his efforts to spread the gospel. He specifically asked them to pray that God would give him the ability to open his mouth and speak with boldness, the mystery of Christ, as he ought (Eph. 6:19-20).
Certainly, if Paul needed prayer to tell people about God and preach the gospel, we need to pray. We need to pray for our individual efforts and our efforts as a church, both privately and publicly.
Be The World's Bible
When interacting with people, we look for clues to determine whether they're credible and believable.
Likewise, people are looking at us, trying to determine if we are credible concerning the religious things we talk about. They look at our lives to see if our religion is working in our lives. They want to see whether we're happy, how we overcome adversity, how we interact with family and friends, how we interact with brethren in and out of the assembly, etc.
Christians are the light of the world. We are like a city on a hill that can't be hidden from man's view, and a lamp sitting high on a lampstand so the whole room is lit. Jesus says, "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16).
As the world's light, shining forth the truths revealed in God's word, we must sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks us to give an account for the hope that is in us, with gentleness and reverence" (1 Pet. 2:15).
As Christians, shining our lights and answering the world's questions, we want to share our faith with everyone we contact. We accomplish this by being ourselves and opening up to people, sharing our failures and successes, as we show others the gospel of Christ and God's power (Rom. 1:16).
Paul tells us to make the most of our time (Eph. 5:16). To accomplish this command, we need to recognize the opportunities God sets before us, as he opens doors for us to share the gospel with people in everyday life.
Unfortunately, we often miss these opportunities because we don't recognize the cues and signals whereby we can detect whether a person is interested in discussing spiritual things.
For example, I've missed opportunities to talk to people who've asked, "Where do you go to church?" I answered the question and hurried away, not thinking about the conversation that could have developed. I didn't follow up by asking, "Where do you go to church?" or "How do you like your church?"
Tip #1: When Someone Says "Church" . . . .
If someone says the word "church," follow up. This shows that they are interested in talking about church and spiritual topics.
You can follow up by asking them questions about their church. You can ask the name of their church and where it's located. You can ask how long they've been attending. You can ask why they chose that church. You can ask about the preacher, minister, pastor, or priest. You can ask about what they like and dislike about the church. Their answers will help you get to know the person, and hopefully help with future discussions.
The conversation may allow you an opportunity to tell them about the church of Christ and our congregation. You may even have an opportunity to point out some differences between the Lord's church and other churches. But be careful not to make assumptions about what they believe or what their church teaches, which would be insulting, especially if you're wrong.
Tip #2: Conversations Regarding Moral and Religious Issues
If someone starts a conversation regarding a moral or religious issue, follow up by discussing the topic while referencing the Bible to substantiate your position.
You probably won't be able to open a Bible and read from it, which may turn them off anyway. But it's good to bring the Bible into the conversation, showing that it is the authority for your life. This will be of interest to individuals who are searching for a church that relies on the Bible for the things it does, not on the opinions and doctrines of men. And it will give you credibility with people who are searching for the truth.
Tip #3: Use Any Conversation. . . .
With a little practice, any conversation can springboard to a spiritual conversation about God, the church, salvation, etc. Everything has something to do with God and religion; therefore, every conversation has something to do with God.
For example, when talking to someone about sports you can springboard to a spiritual conversation by sharing your thoughts. In these situations, I often mention that sporting events on Sunday aren't practical to attend because of church.
Tip #4: Ask, "Are you going to church right now?"
Whenever you're in a religious conversation, ask, "Are you going to church right now?" This question is an inoffensive way to find out if they're looking for a church.
If they're not going to church, you have the opportunity to invite them to go to church with you, while giving the reasons you like our congregation.
If they're already going to church, you have opportunity to continue the conversation by asking a few more questions. Questions like, "How are things at your church?" and "What do you like about your church?"
When talking to someone who is already going to a church, you can still invite them to visit with you. Sometimes I'll say, "I'd love for you to come to church with me when you have a chance!" or "If you're ever looking for a church, I'd like for you to visit with me!"
Cultivate and Stimulate Opportunities
Besides recognizing opportunities, you can also cultivate and stimulate opportunities to share the gospel with others.
Cultivating evangelistic opportunities is like fishing. You drop clues and send signals that tells people you're interested in talking about spiritual matters, and see if anyone responds. You can send the signals to everyone you contact, no matter where you are or what you're doing, confident the Lord will help you when people responds.
Tip #5: Use a Spiritual Vocabulary
Many people you contact throughout the day are interested in having a spiritual conversation.
In a poll submitted by Jerry De Luca to Preaching Today, 49% of people want to talk about moral issues, and 42% of people want to talk about spiritual issues and beliefs.
A poll in the 2001 Roper Youth Report, reveals that more kids and teenagers are interested in church than surfing the Web, watching a movie, hanging out at parties, or going to the mall.
- 53% of respondents ranked religion and spirituality among their top personal interests.
- 58% said churches and religious groups are an important influence on their moral values.
By using words like "church," "God," "Jesus," and "salvation" in everyday conversations, you let people know you are spiritually minded, and that you'd like to have a spiritual conversation.
People who are interested in having a spiritual conversation will often reply by using spiritual or religious words. In such cases, you can follow up, as discussed earlier in this series.
Tip #6: Talk About Moral and Religious Topics
When you're talking about moral and religious topics, reference the Bible to substantiate your point. It's usually best not to give the chapter and verse, or quote the Scripture, because many people think you are talking down to them or preaching at them. But if they ask where the Scripture is in the Bible, be ready to tell them, and possibly show them — this could be your first Bible study together.
By referencing the Bible in a conversation, you show people that you are committed to God's word, and that it's the ultimate authority for your life. This shows them that you are a sincere and faithful Bible student, and allows you to graciously interject basic principles, such as:
- We both can't be right, but both of us can be wrong.
- I just want to know what the Bible says. I'll change if I'm wrong.
- Someone who believes God, obeys God.
Tip #7: Relate God to Secular Topics of Discussion
Every topic relates to God in some fashion. The more conversations we can relate to God and the Bible, the more successful we'll be at finding people who are interested in talking about God.
You can practice by replaying conversations in your mind and asking, "How could I have taught a spiritual lesson during that conversation?" Then, practice what you could have said during the conversation. Soon, you'll find yourself teaching these lessons in everyday conversation.
Tip #8: Tell People About Jesus' Church
In spiritual conversations, you can often interject something about Jesus' church and our congregation.
Like a sower sows seed in a field, talk about God, Jesus, and the church with everyone you can. If someone cares about God enough to have a spiritual conversation with you, they'll appreciate talking about His church.
To prepare for these conversations, make a list of basic things everyone should know about the Lord's church, especially how it differs from other churches. And make a list of reasons why you like being a member of our congregation. Memorize both lists, frequently review them, and you'll begin talking about them.