Conversations are a part of our everyday interactions, but there’s something unique about how we handle conversations that allow movement to happen. It takes some instinct shifts to reshape the way we approach our nonbelieving friends, family and neighbors if we want to see multiplication. Maybe there’s an alternative to arguing them out of their closely held beliefs and hoping they’ll put their faith in Christ on the spot.
In the CDM Podcast episode, ”How Disciple Making Conversations Are Different,” Paul and Rebecca talk about what our conversations with nonbelievers should look like and how they can lead to people discovering God for themselves through His Word.
What We’ve Been Doing
For many of us, we’ve been taught to share our faith with our nonbelieving friends, family and neighbors in one or more of the following ways.
We argue or preach them out of their closely held beliefs. We try to convince them on the spot that Mormonism is wrong, atheism is wrong, they can’t do good works to earn God’s acceptance, etc.
We invite them to our church.
We get them to say a specific prayer and receive Christ.
Disciple Making Conversations
Our goal in disciple making conversations is to lead people to read, obey, and share the Bible for themselves in a Discovery Bible Study or Discovery Group.
We are trying to attract people to the Word, not to church, saying a prayer or changing their religion. Church happens once they encounter Jesus through Scripture.
Here is how we go about this:
We seek connection rather than confrontation.
We listen to see where the unbeliever is and what their heart needs are so that we can point them to stories that address how God and the Bible meet those needs.
We long for them to see that God and His Word have answers to their most heartfelt needs and questions.
We rely on the power of God’s voice through the stories from the Bible to draw them to want more.
We don't lead with convincing people that their religion and beliefs are wrong. Rather, we show them that heart need they're trying to fulfill with other religions is met in God and the Bible. And then we let God’s Spirit, through the Bible, confront them on the major things and bring transformation.
Shifts In Conversation
We apply an individualized approach rather than a cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all presentation. We want to contribute in the places where God is already working in their lives, not where we want them to be.
This requires a lot of listening!
If God hasn't moved them to be ready to receive His Word yet, an invitation to accept Christ can not only be unhelpful, but it can also prevent them from taking the next step they need to take.
We also want our conversations to be inwardly motivated instead of externally motivated. This means that we meet people where they are instead of searching for an opening to hijack the conversation and go through scripted lines.
The goal is to help ourselves and other believers develop the skills of getting to know people.
Now, here are a few helpful tips for those of us who are fluent in church-speak.
Be conspicuously spiritual without being obnoxiously religious.
Speak more plainly. When we talk at people with a lot of religious terminology and Christian lingo, it can come across like we're a door-to-door salesman.
Avoid asking “hook” questions that use church jargon and unnaturally direct the conversation to places the other person hasn’t shown an interest in going.
Instead, let’s build relationships and keep an eye on long term goals rather than just brief, momentary interactions.
Since we believe in discipling people into conversion, we are seeking to establish a solid relationship. Therefore, we should be patient and let our conversations lead to further and deeper conversation, not just cram all our hopes and dreams of where we want to go into one conversation.
There are exceptions to this of course, like when there’s a big public miracle and you have the immediate opportunity to point back to Scripture, or when you know you won’t see a person again, though this scenario is increasingly unlikely with the interconnectedness of smart phones, social media, text messaging, etc.
Helping Connect Meaningful, Spiritual and Discovery Conversations
For deeper, meaningful, spiritual and discovery conversations with people, here are some examples of questions to at least mentally consider as you go. These aren’t questions you need to always ask, but they can still serve us well if we bear them in mind throughout our conversations.
Why is this particular thing important to this person? What about that attracts them?
What is at the heart of this meaningful conversation?
Why are they following or interested in astrology, psychology, history? Why are they helping or holding positions at the local school, government, or charities? What attracts them about making more money, getting married, becoming a star player, or being a part of a gaming community?
How has God worked in them in this matter?
How do you and God connect with the ‘why’ of what they are saying, doing, and believing? How does what I’ve experienced and what God has done in my life allow me to speak into what they’ve shared?
What does God say about that matter?
What stories of the Bible illustrate and meet the need of that person?
As we listen well, ask good questions and let our conversations flow naturally, we will discover people’s motivations, backstories and inward struggles and have opportunities to share God’s Word with them in ways that meet them where they are and help them discover God for themselves.
If you found this blog helpful and would like to learn more, be sure to check out “How Disciple Making Conversations Are Different” here! Paul and Rebecca tackle in much greater detail how we can see our disciple making conversations bear fruit that leads to the nonbelievers in our lives becoming disciples worth multiplying who make disciples worth multiplying. You can find the podcast at the link above or on the CDM App under podcasts!