Always wanted to know how you can turn an ordinary conversation into an opportunity to share the Gospel? Sure you have. Now you can.
Talking is one of the most natural impulses of human behaviour. Even if you made a late start in babyhood, you’re probably making up for it now. Keep up the chatter. Let’s make it work for eternal good. If you can talk, you can share the faith.
Unless you don't intend to, which is often the case.
Intentionality is the key. We talk many times and to many people every day. Once we decide that we just wish to “re-set” one of these conversations daily (weekly, regularly) to share the Good News of the Single Most Important Thing In Life, we can make it happen.
Just like that. No magic, only a fervent desire. He that wins souls is wise (Prov 11:30). Always has been; continues to be so.
Recall the chorus from our youth: “Lead me to some soul today, O teach me, Lord, just what to say; friends of mine are lost in sin, and cannot find their way.” Make that your prayer. Daily.
Next is Interest. Have a genuine interest in people as people and not just as unsaved souls. This opens up avenues of topics to talk about. Generally, people like to talk about what’s important to them – may not be to you, but definitely to them. It may be a minor ache or pain; or how the children are coping in school; or the rising prices of basic market items. Good place to start. Recall, the journey of a thousand miles begins somewhere.
Zig Ziglar weighs in on this: “You never know when it will happen.You might be on an airplane, at the office water cooler, in the backyard talking to a neighbour, in church or in your child’s room putting him or her to bed. Something – your kindness, the other person’s need, an event in the news, a family problem – may prompt the person to ask you about your faith. Are you ready? What will you say? How will you say it?”
Always be ready to give an answer for the living hope in you (1 Peter 3:15). A privilege at the tip of your tongue. Now to some practical aspects.
When you have to create the opportunity or opening, try this for starters. Basically, what we need is a bridge – a Verbal Bridge. Something like, “By the way, talking about “x”, have I mentioned “y” to you before?” Then, tell it like it is. Amazon does that all the time – people who buy book “A” usually also buy titles “B", “C” or “D”.
We have all met people who will talk about whatever they intend to. There's always someone, for example, who likes to bring her cat into every conversation. Children are clever to “hint” at a toy that they "die, die" must have. Others want to make sure you know they have graduated from the best of universities. No problem, they know how to get it in – edge-wise if necessary. Most likely they will use a “Verbal Bridge”. Here we are, talking generally about the recent heavy rainfall and ponding problems down Orchard Road, and they pipe up with, “Yes. I remember how much rain fell when I was studying at Cambridge ten years ago…” and soon it’s all about that august centre of learning rather than our pitiable puddle of water. Sneaky but smart.
If you don’t use a “Verbal Bridge”, then the other person will be startled and may say, “What are you talking about?” You have leapt across the chasm but left him behind! A Verbal Bridge allows the person to see the connection from where you are, to where you wish to go … and cross it! And the more you practise this, the better you get. Bridging seamlessly.
Another method is to prepare a Power Phrase – a catchy sentence that is loaded with meaning and momentum, designed to open up a hearer’s mind. Try some of these for size:
If you were God, what kind of prayers would you not answer?
People like to say, “Life goes on”; then shouldn’t they find out “Where does it go on to?”
No painting without a painter; no story without an author; can there be Creation without a Creator?
A third way: Tag it. If you want to make a “strong” statement, but wish to invite the other person into a meaningful response, add a question after it:
God is love. Do you think He should love everyone, even criminals?
Someone said, “When I die I shall go to heaven because I have already been to hell.” How does that makes sense?
God is not fair. We deserve to go to hell but He wants us all in Heaven. Mind blowing, huh?
Maybe, fourthly, Riddles work for you. A riddle is a statement or question or phrase having a double or veiled meaning, put forth as a puzzle to be solved (Wikipedia). It’s usually fun or funny or downright pun-ny. If the person can solve it, he feels good. Even if he can’t, he realizes that there are some things in life which are worthy of deeper examination, sincere reflection and not be lightly glossed over.
What is it that you can keep after giving it to someone else? (Your word)
What is taller sitting than standing? (A dog)
Mary’s father has 5 daughters – Nana, Nene, Nini, Nono. What is the fifth daughter’s name? (If you answered Nunu, you are wrong. It’s Mary!)
Right, have a go. Thanks to groups like Evangelism Explosion, Campus Crusade (4 Spiritual Laws) and the Navigators (the Bridge illustration) and your outreach pastor, we know what to say after we have got their attention, interest and curiosity. Gossip the Gospel. Eternity may be at stake.
"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?" (Romans 10:14) Again, how can they hear without a...talker?
I too didn't know that I could. But I did.
Dr Andrew Goh, honorary editor of IMPACT Magazine