It’s not difficult to be enthusiastic about sharing your faith—until you realize that those conversations don’t start themselves. At some point, sharing the gospel means that you’re going to have to start a specific sort of discussion, and that can feel incredibly awkward and intimidating.
But there’s no way around it. Hearing the gospel is an important first step in accepting it. Paul communicates this clearly in his letter to the Romans: “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17, New International Version). Eventually you need to share the reason for the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15).
A couple of thoughts about “the talk”
This post is full of questions designed to give you opportunity to share your faith. At some point, you should be able to transition the discussion with these questions that start toward what the gospel is, and why you believe it.
Here are a couple of things you’ll want to keep in mind about the discussion:
- First and foremost, “success” doesn’t depend on you. The Holy Spirit takes care of changing people’s hearts; all we have to “do” is share in faith.
- Don’t launch into “the talk” if you’ve only got a limited amount of time. It’s best if you can make an investment in any questions or discussions that ensue.
- Don’t push the discussion if they seem resistant to it. This talk is best when they’re receptive to hearing it. It isn’t a failure if you choose to wait for a better time.
- Don’t feel like you need to push for a decision now. If you give them something to wrestle with, you’ve done your job. The change of heart happens on the Holy Spirit’s timetable.
Here are five broad topics and questions you can use to start conversations that transition easily toward sharing your faith. (And they’re topics that come up naturally in conversation, so stay alert for when these opportunities arise!)
I know it seems macabre, but death is something we all have in common. And really, is there a better topic of conversation that reveals the beauty of the gospel?
“What do you think would be the best/worst way to die?”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had interesting and funny conversations with friends that started this way. It can be a fairly lighthearted conversation that lends itself well to this follow-up:
“What do you think happens after you die?”
Remember that you’re not getting into this conversation to argue with anyone about their views; you’re looking for an opportunity to share your faith. With these two simple questions, you’ve created a really comfortable setting to do just that.
Since an important element of the gospel is the sinful condition of mankind, discussions about good and evil provide an interesting opportunity. There are a number of ways you can begin this conversation:
- “How do we know what’s right or wrong?”
- “Do you think there is anything that is inherently wrong in all cultures?”
- “Don’t you think it’s weird that all children seem to have an innate sense of fairness?”
You’ll likely end up contrasting their idea that morality is relative to one’s culture of origin to yours, that there is an objective morality. This is a vastly interesting discussion and it can be fun to debate whether the killing of innocent people is wrong—even when a culture decides it’s not.
If you don’t have the stomach for debate, the third question is a great place to start. Children don’t need to be taught the concept of fairness; it’s innate. The minute they experience what they consider unfair, they object. Is this a sign that God’s law is written on all of our hearts?
You don’t want to get caught up in winning a debate. Use it as a springboard to share your belief that we have all fallen short of divine law and Jesus came to die in order that we could be reconciled with God.
People are pretty open to discussing religion, and it can be a great lead-in to “the talk.” But it’s not for the faint of heart. In order to use the topic of religion as a jumping off point to discussing faith, you’re likely to end up hearing some very frank things about religion and Christians. This discussion isn’t your best bet if you’re prone to defensiveness or get offended easily.
- “Do you think, overall, that religion contributes to or detracts from becoming a good person?”
- “Overall, do you think religion makes society better off or worse off?”
- “Are you more or less likely to trust someone if they’re religious?”
This transitions well into a discussion about how your faith is in the person of Jesus Christ, and not in a religious movement. Sometimes it’s helpful to make that distinction for people.
4. Human Nature
When I became a Christian, it was because of the human nature question. I knew there were decisions I made that were unhealthy and harmful to myself and others, but I made them anyway. When I thought about my inability to consistently make good decisions—and recognized that everyone struggled with the same problem, I had to wonder what was wrong with all of us. The Bible’s answer to this question resonated deeply with me, and I chose to follow Jesus.
“Do you think people are inherently good or inherently bad?”
This question is powerful. If they think that people are inherently good, they have to answer for all the bad. And we’re not just talking about the overwhelmingly evil things done by people (e.g., the Holocaust), but also the everyday wrong or harmful things we all do.
If they believe people are inherently bad, ask them what can be done about it. This is the perfect segue into a discussion of your faith.
The problem of evil is one of the most common atheist arguments against God’s existence. If God exists and is good, then why is there so much terrible stuff in the world? As the old argument goes, either:
- Evil exists because God is all powerful but He isn’t good.
- Evil exists because God is all good, but lacks the power to stop it.
But the inverse of this argument is also interesting. Considering the fact that mankind has always experienced difficulties, plagues, wars and famines, why do we expect it should be different? What is it in us that assumes we all deserve good experiences? This is the question you want to entertain.
“Why do we all assume we deserve good experiences?”
We’re not just talking about the worst-case scenarios here. “Why does this always happen to me?” is the kind of question that people ask when they misplace their keys or stub their toe.
For the Christian, the fact that we ask ourselves these questions make sense. We weren’t created to live in a broken world full of turmoil and constant struggle. And even though the world isn’t the way it was intended to be, we still internally long for the utopia we were created to experience. This desire and expectation is in all our hearts.
This is an amazing place to start a discussion about the life God promises us in Christ.
Overcoming our anxieties
Hopefully these questions can help you step over that awkward conversation hurdle, and help you share your faith. Once you do it a couple of times, you’ll find that it gets easier—and feels a lot less awkward.
If you’re interested in leading a Bible study or small group study on sharing the gospel, download a free copy of We Are All Missionaries: A Small Group Curriculum for Sharing the Gospel. This easy-to-use four-week curriculum will stimulate powerful group dialogue about sharing the gospel.