5 Tips for Getting Comfortable Starting Gospel Conversations

Woman speaking to a man and other woman

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Many Christians know what it’s like to get enthusiastic about a Bible study or sermon about the Great Commission but then get hung up when starting a conversation about faith with someone else. 

It’s not that their commitment or zeal has waned. It’s just that they don’t know how to confidently move a discussion in that direction. They feel more than capable when a conversation naturally moves in a spiritual direction but struggle to start a spiritual conversation from scratch. The idea of forcing a conversation like that makes them anxious. 

If you identify with the fear of knowing how to kick off a gospel-centered conversation, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Many Christians feel comfortable talking about their faith but don’t know how to create opportunities for them to do so. Being nervous about it is natural, but that nervousness shouldn’t prohibit us. The Great Commission is counting on us being willing to speak up. 

Here are five tips to help you feel more confident starting gospel conversations. 

1. Pray to be prepared   

It’s no surprise that the first suggestion concerns prayer. After all, it’s one of the most significant things we can do to stay aligned with God and His will. But when it comes to starting a gospel conversation, the key is to pray in anticipation of these discussions. 

You want to recognize opportunities when they arise and pray for the courage to seize them. We often think that by praying for occasions to share our faith, we’ll receive them gift-wrapped. We want God to send us people who ask, “What must I do to be a Jesus follower?” 

Often, the opportunities we pray for are more contextual than situational. That means that God helps us recognize when things have aligned in someone’s life in a way that might make them more open to hearing about the gospel. It’s not about praying for the Lord to tee up a conversation that has no awkwardness or risk for us. We need to ask God for the courage to press in when those opportunities become apparent because if we’re waiting for the perfect, trouble-free occasion, we’ll miss many legitimate opportunities. 

2. Become a good listener 

You might think that getting comfortable stepping into faith conversations is about learning verbal tips and tricks. The truth is that it really begins with listening. If you want to share your faith in a way that engages others, you need to start by listening.

First, active listening helps us identify the concerns and hopes of the people around us. If we don’t understand their perspective, we tend to come at them with ours. We end up framing discussions around concepts, ideas and metaphors that are important to us but might not resonate with them. When we listen, we learn to develop more intriguing entry points into conversations that they care about. 

Secondly, when we demonstrate that we’re listening, we’re less likely to come across as salespeople. Others are more likely to listen to us when we have shown that we’re listening to them, too. 

3. Start with common ground 

You might differ from someone regarding issues of faith, but there are likely places where you intersect. You may have a shared interest or have some shared experiences. It could be similar backgrounds, concerns, values or ideals. 

It’s straightforward to begin faith discussions from the places where there are disagreements. But that can put the other person on the defensive right from the outset. It can be a lot more comforting for them to feel like you may have more similarities in your thinking than differences, and it can help them put their guard down.

4. Recognize the conversation is part of a process  

Sometimes the stress we feel about starting a spiritual conversation comes from the expectation that the conversation needs to lead to a conversion, and if it doesn’t, we fail. But releasing ourselves from the expectation that we need to lead them to Jesus in this particular conversation takes the pressure off. 

The person you’re talking to may not seem interested in the discussion or might even seem dismissive or antagonistic toward the topic. If you judge each conversation by its immediate result, the whole idea of broaching the topic might be overwhelming. 

The truth is that God is at work in each person’s life, and with every exposure to the gospel, He is wooing people to Him. The conversations you facilitate are part of that process and have value and purpose, even if it’s not immediately apparent to you. In fact, sometimes conversations that don’t go as well as you would have liked can have a significant impact over time as people ruminate upon them.  

As followers of Jesus, we should always be prepared to share why our hope is in Him. The outcome isn’t our responsibility; the sharing is. Once we make that mental shift, starting conversations can feel a lot less daunting. 

5. Make sure you have plenty of tools

Committing to the Great Commission doesn’t mean we have all the answers to every question someone asks about Jesus or the Scriptures. That’s why having resources you can direct people to is so important. Not only does this release you from the pressure of knowing everything, but it also allows them to dive into stuff at their own pace in their own time. 

Jesus Film Project® has helpful resources. Through our YouTube channel and the Watch page on our website, people can access films about Jesus based on the Gospels of Luke and John. This way, they can learn the story of Jesus taken directly from the Gospels. There are also other helpful videos for people with questions about Christianity, like the NUA series or the Do You Ever Wonder…? series.

All our available videos can also be viewed and shared on the Jesus Film Project mobile app. The free app makes it easy to share Jesus-centered media from anywhere. You can download it from the Apple and Google Play stores. 

For more information, check out our blog post “Using the Jesus Film Project App to Share the Gospel.”  

Don’t be afraid to dive in 

If you think about it, everyone around you starts conversations about the things that interest them every day. We talk about shows we’re watching, restaurants we enjoy, and hobbies that consume us. When you think about it, talking about your faith is simply talking about something important to you. 

It’s our expectations about the conversation that creates all the pressure and worry. If you bring it up and the other party doesn’t appear overly interested in the discussion, that’s okay. Or maybe you discover that it’s a topic that they’re enthusiastic about delving into. You won’t know you open that door. 

The fact is that the best way to start a conversation about Jesus is to start talking about your hope. The more you do it, the easier it gets.