Small Talk, Big Opportunities

Detrick R. Price

For many of us, developing relationships with seekers is not hard. Not that it’s easy either, but we know to be friendly, to look for opportunities to serve, and have learned the art of social conversation. Yet, we still sense that something is missing. Somehow the conversation never comes around to spiritual things. As we talk with people every day, how can we transition from the general communication of daily life into spiritual discussions, and most importantly, the gospel? Here are six ways to help you turn small talk into big opportunities.

1. Determine their readiness. To effectively transition from small talk to spiritual things, you first need to determine your friend’s readiness to discuss spiritual things.

What do you know of the person’s religious background?

Do you sense that they enjoy being with you?

What needs have you discovered that relate to the gospel solution?

Flow much of your personal testimony have you had a chance to share?

What was their response?

2. Look for signs of openness. Here are some clues that a person may be open to discussion about the gospel message.

They ask questions about religious things.

They evidence a general freedom to discuss religious concepts.

They are open to reading books on spiritual issues.

They are willing to go to an event where the gospel is going to be presented.

They evidence a seeking attitude.

3. Learn some transitions. Here are some transition questions and statements that will help you develop conversations about spiritual things.

The “Why should I let you in?” question. “Let’s assume there is a God, a life after this life, and a heaven. If you were to die tonight and stand before God, and He was to say, ‘Why should I let You into heaven?’ what would you say?”

The assurance question. “Have you come to a place in your spiritual life where you know for certain that if you were to die tonight you would go to heaven? On a scale of 1 to 10 how sure would you be?”

4. Set up the opportunity. Here are some ideas for setting up an appointment to talk with a friend about entering into a personal relationship with God.

Use an opportunity statement. “John, sometime I’d like the opportunity to share some principles with you that will help you understand what it means to establish a personal relationship with Christ. I know you think there is a lot of hypocrisy in the church, but I think these principles may answer some of your questions.”

Ask an interest question. “Could I share those principles with you?”

Find a time. “When would be a good time? Is morning O.K. for you? Maybe we could play tennis and talk about this after the game.”

5. Share the message. When you sense you have an opportunity to communicate the gospel message, these questions are very helpful.

Ask for an opportunity to explain the message. “Has anyone ever taken a Bible and shown you how you can know for sure that you have eternal life (or that you will go to heaven)?”

After you have finished presenting the message of the gospel, these two questions will help move a person either toward belief or toward more exploration of bow the gospel meets their ultimate need for a
relationship with God.

Discern their readiness to make a decision “On the basis of this presentation, do you feel you have ever received Jesus Christ as your savior? Is there any reason why you wouldn’t want to receive Jesus Christ right now?”

Follow up with questions. “I understand this is a new concept and that it takes a while to digest it before you make a decision. Would you be interested in meeting once a week for three weeks and going through a study on what it means to start a relationship with God?”

6. Gather and remember good illustrations. You will find numerous illustrations in gospel tracts, from current events, and in Reader’s Digest and other periodicals. Illustrations are perhaps one of the most effective means of communicating a message.

7. Avoid the pitfalls. When you communicate the message, here are common pitfalls to avoid.

Don’t use cliches or theological language. Practice the presentation using creative alternatives to traditional words. While biblical phrases such as “born again” and “saved” are accurate, they don’t have
much meaning to many non-Christians. Practice explaining the gospel without using any of these kinds of words.

Don’t do all the talking. Ask questions as you move through the presentation to get them involved in the conversation.

Don’t come across as harshly dogmatic or authoritarian. Work at being sensitive and understanding toward the worldview of others without compromising the truth.

Don’t force the issue. Asking a person to respond immediately isn’t always appropriate. Be sensitive to the other person and to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Remember, whether it’s movies, religion, politics, current events or food, your friends will talk to you about issues and experiences that are important to them, and they don’t expect you to always agree with
them. If you work at building genuine relationships, you should feel free to share your faith without fear of losing a friend.