In the iconic 90s movie, the eponymous Forrest Gump, played by legendary actor Tom Hanks, memorably evokes one of one of his mama’s sayings when he quips: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Isn’t this just like witnessing conversations?
As we seek to fulfill the Great Commission and engage in spiritual conversations about the perfect person and powerful work of Jesus, we never know what we may encounter. Our spiritual conversations can surprise us like a box of chocolates.
Rather than being reticent, let us be reflective. If we’re honest, we all would have to admit, no matter how gifted a conversationalist we may think we are, that moving conversations toward the spiritual can be challenging to one degree or another at various times. And once there, then what do we do?
How can we steer conversations
from the secular to the sacred?
This series of blogs will introduce the process of engaging conversations of a spiritual substance – conversations about sin, the Savior, and His offer of salvation.
There are two general ways spiritual conversations occur: we initiate them by asking leading questions or we involve ourselves in organic spontaneous moments – divine appointments – in the course of casual conversation.
There are a myriad of leading questions we can ask to get the ball rolling. For example, we can ask a benign question like, “Did you have any kind of faith tradition growing up?” or a very direct question like, “Who do you think Jesus is?” We’ll elaborate more on the power of asking effective questions during this series.
But first, have you ever had a powerful spiritual conversation with an unbeliever and you’re not quite sure how it began; it just happened? Upon sharing this phenomenon with people about this kind of discussion, I’ve been asked on occasion: “How did it begin?” My response: “I don’t know.” Can you relate?
Since He is the Father of truth, all spiritual conversations are a God-thing! For the Lord has a singular ability to move conversations from the secular to the spiritual. And whether you see yourself as an engager or not, the ‘will to’ must proceed the ‘how to.’ If you’re reading this blog, you have a ‘will to’, and I affirm you in the Lord! Trust that God will take your willing heart and grow this area of your witness.
“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6).
Whether we lead with questions or seek to be more organic in our approach, intentionality is the key. And prayer is the foundation to spiritual conversations and the following principle imperative to understand, internalize and apply – go to God on behalf of people before you go to people on behalf of God. If we want to speak with people about the Kingdom of God and Jesus, ask the Lord to prepare us to give a “word aptly spoken” (Proverbs 25:11). We may know what we want to say and how to say it. Yet if we don’t know what to say, we can trust the Lord to meet us at our point of need.
“But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak” (Matthew 10:19).
If the Lord promised to give the disciples the right words under that kind of pressure, don’t you think He will give to you the words in your moment of need?
It was just another trip to the bank – a routine visit. But on this day I had no idea walking into the bank that I would have a spiritual conversation with a bank teller.
While making a commercial deposit, he asked how business was going. I then told him I actually run a Christian non-profit organization. He asked what that looked like. I told him I taught followers of Jesus how to share their faith and also taught Jewish Roots of the Christian faith. He said, “That’s interesting.”
I then responded, “What’s your spiritual orientation?”
That began a brief conversation where he said he was struggling with faith issues. He told me he’d grown up in the Church and had recently been attending a church that was much different than what he knew growing up. He said this experience had him reeling and asking lots of questions.
Without knowing specifics, I encouraged him to seek the Lord and get into His Word. I also told him I would pray for him.
He thanked me and I went on my way.
Oh the mystery!
“Speak the truth in love.” – Ephesians 4:15