Sharing the gospel in ordinary conversations

Using questions

Direct approach: Ask him a direct question about spiritual matters

(Mat 16:13-16 NIV)  When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" {14} They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." {15} "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" {16} Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Jesus asked Peter a direct question. Who do you say I am?

When we engage in a conversation with someone, it is good to discern whether that person is ready for the gospel. If he is, we may just use the direct approach and present the gospel story.

Ask a question so that the answer is what you want to share about

(Acts 8:26-35 NIV) {30} Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked. {31} "How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. {32} The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: "He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. {33} In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth." {34} The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?" {35} Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

Philip wanted to tell the eunuch about Jesus' redemptive death for mankind. Since the eunuch was reading the book of Isaiah at that time, Philip asked him a question that would lead to the salvation message. The question is whether or not he understands what he is reading.

If we want to share the gospel of the free gift of salvation to Catholics, we could ask them whether they know the main difference between Roman Catholic and Protestant beliefs. That could be a start of a conversation that will enable us to share the message of Jesus' finished work on the cross.

What are other questions you can ask to lead you to a conversation that can share the gospel?

Do you know what makes Jesus so different from the other founders of religion like Buddha and Muhammad? (An opportunity to tell him about the historical fact of the resurrection that differentiates Him from the other founders of religions who lived and died.)
Do you know that many of the events of our day have been accurately predicted in the Bible? (An opportunity to tell him about fulfilled prophecies in the Bible.)
Do you know that many modern scientific discoveries were already in the Bible for hundreds or thousands of years? (An opportunity to share about the foreknowledge of science in the Bible.)

Ask the non-believer to share his point of view so that you can share your own and introduce the gospel.

What are you doing to get yourselves right with God? (An opportunity to tell him about the redemptive death of Jesus for us.)
With so many religions in this world, how do you decide which one is right? With the teachings of the religions contradicting each other, they cannot all be right at the same time. (An opportunity to show him the proofs of the Bible which clearly demonstrates its divine origin.)

Using the conversation topic
Revolve the conversation topic around the non-believer's topic of interest or need

(John 4:7-15 NIV) When a Samaritan woman came to draw water…{10} Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." {11} "Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? {12} Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?" {13} Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, {14} but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." {15} The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water."

The woman came to the well to draw water. Jesus knew that the topic of water would be of interest to her. That was the topic He used to start the conversation.

Many people would be unwilling to talk to Christians about the topic of salvation. Yet they would be happy to talk to us about topics that interest them. We could start talking to them about such topics and steer the conversation to the gospel.

We also need to talk around a person's area of need. The woman at the well had one immediate need. She needs water. Therefore Jesus talks about water. He did not talk about being "born again" the topic of discussion he had with Nicodemus.

When we talk to a non-Christian, ask ourselves what is the predominant need. It may be the need for security or it may be the need to rid of pain - emotional or spiritual. The gospel message can then be tailored to the need.

Draw analogy from the existing conversation topic to point to the gospel

(John 4:7-10 NIV) When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" {8} (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) {9} The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) {10} Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."

Jesus used a general topic of discussion - water - and turned it into an opportunity to share the gospel. He converted "water" into "living water".

In our conversation, there are ample opportunities to do the same. For example…

Since we are on the topic of fortune telling, do you know that the Bible contains many prophecies that are specific and fulfilled to the last detail, unlike many of today's "prophets" who can only give general predictions and who have been proven to be wrong at times.
Since we are talking about all these scientific discoveries, do you know that many of the modern scientific discoveries were already revealed in the Bible hundreds or even thousands of years before?
Since we are talking about how people try to get themselves right with God, do you know that Christianity teaches something totally different from what other religion practices. The Bible tells us that we cannot do anything to gain God's favor but it was God who took the initiative and came down to die for us.

Introduce a topic so that you can prove that your God is real

(John 4:16-19 NIV) He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back." {17} "I have no husband," she replied. Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. {18} The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true." {19} "Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet.

Out of nowhere, Jesus asked for the woman to call her husband. We later realize why. By doing so the conversation will lead to one that He was able to prove that He is a prophet and Messiah. After declaring what an ordinary man would not have been able to do, the woman realized that Jesus was a prophet.

Appeal to curiosity

(John 4:10-14 NIV) Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." {11} "Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? {12} Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?" {13} Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, {14} but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

Jesus appealed to the woman's sense of curiosity in verse 10. She must be wondering what sort of water would be "living water" causing one never to thirst again. It must have been a great thought to never have to come to the well to draw water again.

We can also draw the non-believer's curiosity to the Bible. The Bible contains so many interesting facts that are unknown to the non-believer. For example there are many scientific statements that are only discovered by scientists recently. There is accurate predictions of future events, some of which we are living today eg cashless society. We can draw such interesting facts and interject them in our conversation. "Do you know that ….?"

Use the technique of contrast

(John 4:13-14 NIV) Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, {14} but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

Jesus built on the "failure" of water to bring the advantages of living water. A good starting point is often where the other systems have failed. For example, money has failed to bring happiness to many people. Therefore we need God. The scriptures of many religions fail to give clues that they are written by a divine source. The Bible is different. Many founders of religion died and remain dead. The resurrection of Jesus is a historical fact.

Using life stories
Use life stories to illustrate important truths

(John 4:13-14 NIV) Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, {14} but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

Jesus wanted to teach about a salvation that will satisfy the innermost needs of our being. He used such a simple object - water - to illustrate that truth.

Many topics in our discussion can be used to share important truths.

Jesus also told stories to people to get the salvation message across.

(Luke 18:9-14 NIV) To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: {10} "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. {11} The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. {12} I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' {13} "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' {14} "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Sometimes it is much easier to explain a truth if illustrations are used. For example, the following story is a good one to illustrate the mercy and justice of God as well as the necessary for the redemptive work of Christ.

There was a story about a young woman who was caught for speeding. She was brought to court where the judge pronounced a fine of $100. After that, the judge did a surprising thing. He got down from his chair and walked down to pay the fine. You see, the judge was the girl's father. But being a judge, he has to be just and pronounce the sentence. But because he loves his daughter, he is willing to take the punishment himself.

Some people feel that the death of Jesus on behalf of mankind is unbelievable because one should be responsible for his own sins. Yet no one listening to this story would think that it is unfair for a father to pay for his daughter's fine. The fine has to be paid and it is perfectly normal for a loving parent to want to help out his child if it is within his capacity.

Are there any stories you can use to illustrate salvation truths to a friend? Remember, different stories have different impact to different people and it is important that we choose relevant stories. This explains why Jesus is always talking about the harvest and the seeds. Because He is talking to people who were predominantly farmers.

Share a personal testimony

Sharing a slice of our life is one of the most natural things to do in a friendly conversation. People do not feel threatened because you are only telling them a true story about yourself. People cannot dispute because it is something that actually happened to you. You, who are telling the story, can also be relaxed because you do not need to study a great deal or acquire a good deal of facts before you can share a testimony.

One of the best examples of this is the incidence of the blind man who was healed by Jesus. He obviously knew very little about "theology". But one thing he could do was to share his personal testimony. He was blind but now he could see.

(John 9:25 NIV) He replied, "Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!"