How to Begin a Witnessing Conversation
Here are three easy ways:
1. When the person asks you about your faith.
The challenge here is to take the question as an opening to share the four parts of the salvation message, as opposed to arguing about the particular aspect of faith that the person brings up. Example:
|Listener: You Christians just need a crutch.
WRONG: You: Why are you so prejudiced against Christians?
BETTER: You: You know, sometimes I do feel like my faith is a crutch for me. That’s because I have a strong sense of my human limitations. May I tell you why I feel that way?
(If the listener agrees, you then begin to talk about part one of the salvation message: separation from God due to sin.)
2. When a topic arises that reminds you of one part of the salvation message.
The challenge here is to move to the message, and not talk merely about the topic. The topic may often be a “felt need;” your opportunity is to move from felt need to humankind’s “root problem.” Example:
|Listener: My greatest need right now is peace.
WRONG: You: Don’t worry, time heals all wounds.
BETTER: Peace is important to me, too. I look to God as my source of peace. But there is a catch to it — can I tell you about it?
You: My problem is that I don’t deserve to get peace or anything else from God. I have come to realize that … (you then begin to talk about part one of the salvation message: separation from God due to sin.)
You have now entered the salvation message based on the person’s need, and not by manipulating the conversation. As you continue, you talk about yourself, not the person, and so you avoid making the person feel coerced. In order to make this kind of transition, you will need to be so familiar with the salvation message that you will notice when a person brings up a compatible topic.
3. By sharing a faith-story — that is, a short testimony of some way that you have seen God at work in your life. The challenge then is to move from the story into the salvation message. Example:
|You: Last night I got the message that a relative had died. I was stricken with grief, but turned to the book of Psalms, and God gave me comfort.
Listener: God never does things like that for me.
WRONG: You: That’s because you don’t have a strong spiritual life.
BETTER: You: It’s not that I am any better than any one else. I don’t really deserve any of the blessings that God gives me. May I tell you why I think that?
Listener: go ahead.
You: ((you then begin to talk about part one of the salvation message: separation from God due to sin.)
Here are additional ways that are more direct:
4. Ask if the person has prayer requests, and be ready to talk about why you believe that God answers prayer, even though we do not deserve the answer.
5. Make a direct inquiry, such as:
What is your impression of the essentials of Christianity? (Your hope is that you will then be able to add your descriptions of those essentials).
6. When the person greets you with “How are you?” a friend of mine has found that conversations will occur when replies with “I am at Peace.”
7. The following progression of five direct questions has been recommended to me, and can be used if you are talking with someone who seems interested and responsive:
….a. Do you have any kind of spiritual beliefs?
….b. To you, who is Jesus Christ?
….c. Do you believe in heaven or hell?
….d. If you died, where would you go? How would you answer when God asks “why should I let you in?”
….e. If what you believe is not true, would you want to know?
How to avoid being pushy:
Be a good listener.
Relate to the person’s needs.
Make use of permission questions.
Link to Witnessing among those we naturally spend time with