How to Talk to Strangers and Neighbors
How to Talk to Strangers
As a child, I was cautioned, “Don’t talk to strangers!” But strangers need to hear about Jesus, too. This conviction sent me to malls and fast-food restaurants all around town to disobey my parents’ advice. In the process, I learned the following lessons:
I used to approach people with a fixed agenda, armed with a memorized gospel presentation. These information-dumping sessions meant little to my hearers. Now I allow them to “evangelize” me, to educate me about what they believe and why. Once I understand them, I can respond more relevantly. And they are more ready to listen once they feel they’ve been heard.
I try to arm myself with good conversation starters, then keep alert for natural bridges. Once I asked permission to sit with some girls who were trying to learn to play guitar. I was able to offer my help, and eventually the conversation turned from guitars to God.
Know the basics.
I suspect many of us are not excited about sharing the good news because we lack a clear understanding of it. Though gospel presentations like the Bridge to Life can help us cover the key points, we need to have a deeper grasp of God’s message for the lost so we are “prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks . . . the reason for the hope that [we] have” (1 Peter 3:15).
I focus on the person of Christ and a relationship with Him and don’t get sidetracked into doctrines and arguments.
Depend on the Holy Spirit.
It is God who does the work. I only cooperate with Him. He sensitizes me to the people I approach so I can speak accurately and relevantly.
When people show curiosity about prayer, I ask if I can pray with them or for them rather than try to explain it. If I share specific verses with them that relate to their circumstances, I show them how to find those verses in the Bible. Whenever possible, I try to leave them with something to go on when they are on their own.
Speaking to strangers does not come naturally to me. So I am thankful I have a group of like-minded people to encourage me. We go out together. We pray together. We share our struggles and successes. –Angeline Koh
“How Do I Meet My Neighbors?”
You’ve read oodles of articles and heard scads of sermons about sharing Christ with your neighbors. But you’re still stuck at Square One —you have no idea how to meet your neighbors. Try these ideas:
Borrow a cup of sugar or a hammer, ask advice, or offer to help your neighbor move something heavy, change a tire, and so on.
Don’t hide in your fenced-in back yard. Sit on your porch or stoop. Wash your car in the driveway. Play croquet in your front yard. Make it easier for your neighbors to meet you.
Overplant your garden.
Especially if your neighbors don’t have gardens. You’ll soon have tomatoes to share all up and down your street.
Organize a neighborhood garage sale.
So no one feels pressured, leave flyers on doorsteps, inviting people to call you if they’re interested. Plan a potluck dinner after the sale.
Throw a block party.
Hold an Easter egg hunt or go Christmas caroling. Neither of these require a lot of time or expense—dyed eggs (require each family to bring six), coffee, juice, and donuts for the egg hunt; song sheets, hot chocolate or cider, and Christmas cookies (again, make a plate of cookies the price of admission) for the caroling. As with the garage sale, get the word out through flyers.
Organize a neighborhood watch program or babysitting cooperative.
Not only will you meet your neighbors, but you’ll have natural opportunities for continued, frequent contact. – Sue Kline
The article “How to Talk to Strangers and Neighbors” written by Deena Davis was excerpted from Best Small Group Ideas, 1996.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”