Three ways to start faith conversations with strangers

Staring out at the crowd, the man drew in his breath to speak. Exhausted, beaten and chained, he lost not a single moment to anger or self-pity. Instead, he used his remaining strength to proclaim boldly the love God had showered upon him. He shared his testimony with the now-silent crowd. He declared the truth of Jesus without a second thought.

Paul proclaimed again and again his testimony and God’s truth, despite the anger of the crowds and the attempts on his life. It’s as if the man had no fear. When he saw an opportunity to talk about Jesus, he took it. The book of Acts fills pages and pages of Paul’s story and his ability to start faith conversations with strangers.

We look at Paul and think, “Wow. Now that is a man unashamed of the gospel and unafraid to talk about his faith!” These thoughts can bring guilt to our hearts when we compare our attempts to start faith conversations with Paul’s successes.

But there shouldn’t be a comparison, really. If you think about it, Paul’s life was all he knew. That was his ordinary. His routine was sharing the gospel every chance he had. Why should our routine look any different?

The fear of a new routine

We can’t compare ourselves to Paul because he lived in a different time and place. Unless God has directed you to spread the gospel in a place that persecutes Christians, you will never live a life similar to Paul’s life.

But just because we shouldn’t compare ourselves to Paul doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to have a similar routine. Talking to people about faith should be a part of our ordinary. The problem is, not many of us have the fearless strength that Paul had. We’re shaking from fear at the thought of talking to our friends about God, let alone from standing in front of an angry crowd.

Our fears come from the hidden places that tell us we’ll be rejected, scorned, offensive or not taken seriously. We fear losing jobs, friends and family. And while these are all very real fears, they’re also selfish fears.

When you think about it, if we allow our fears to hold our tongues, then we move aside as that person takes another step closer to hell. Yes, this sounds harsh (that’s the offensive fear), but we must stop living like it’s someone else’s job to share the truth. Every opportunity missed is a moment closer to when Jesus returns. And if our routines don’t reflect an obedience to the Great Commission, then we’re living selfish lives as we hold onto the truth instead of shouting it for all to hear.

No, it’s not our responsibility for others to accept the truth, but it is our calling to ensure all nations have a chance to accept it.

How to face your fears

How, then, do we face our fears and start faith conversations with those in our lives? What are ways we can put aside our selfish desires to avoid awkwardness, anger or loss?

Seek Wisdom:

How often do you fall into the trap of not having conversations of faith because you think you haven’t had any opportunities to do so? Often, we’re met with days when we simply don’t know who to say what to about Christ. If we seek wisdom and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal moments of opportunity to us, He will give wisdom generously. This is the starting point. We need to recognize these moments before we can jump into them.

Bring up something personal:

No, this doesn’t mean air your dirty laundry or talk about your health history. But if you’re in a situation where the only options are to stand quietly next to that stranger or to start conversation, then start talking! The problem is, with these conversations come topics like weather or how much you love products at this store, etc. These are good ways to break the ice, but you need a touch of personal to make someone feel comfortable.

Mention your family or ask where they’re from and what brought them here. Offer up a personal (yet safe to share) detail. You may be surprised how you can ease into talking about your faith once you’ve opened up the door for personal conversation.

Draw on experiences:

Let’s be real. It can hurt the situation more than help if we simply walk up to a stranger and say, “Hi, do you know Jesus?” Unless God has swung those doors open wide, that’s probably not the best way to draw someone into a conversation. If you find yourself talking with a stranger, think about how God has been a part of your routine and day-to-day life. Draw on an experience that includes Christ working in your life, and share it.

People talk to strangers about experiences with their kids, their pets and their spouses. Why should we be nervous to say, “God really protected my child when…” or “I know what you mean because God has taught me so much patience with…”? Use those moments as open doors to talk about your faith.

 

We don’t all have the courage of Paul, but we do all have the same Spirit inside our hearts as Paul had. While we can think practically about how to start faith conversations with strangers, let’s not forget the most important way to prepare: prayer. Listen for the promptings of the Holy Spirit as you stand next to strangers or meet someone new. Not every situation calls for a proclamation of the gospel. However, we must always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope we have.

Let’s Talk About It: What are ways you start faith conversations with strangers? 

20 Replies to “Three ways to start faith conversations with strangers”

  1. God has been such an integral parts of our lives that the last few years I can’t help but mention him in conversation.
    Sometimes it allows for deeper conversations.

  2. I’ve always loved learning about Paul. It seems we study him every year in our church and I’m always thrilled and learn something new! Paul is such a testament to spreading the gospel. And, you’re right, it’s hard to not feel guilt. It’s so important to allow the Holy Spirit to talk to us. Sometimes it’s not a full fledged sinner’s prayer type of conversation, but a planting of a seed. Which you need to be mindful of praying over so that it will be nurtured and watered along that person’s walk. This is a beautiful and convicting post! Thank you so much for sharing! <3

    1. Absolutely – I love that we’re all in this together in the sense that one person might plant a seed and another person follow-up with that later. It takes so much pressure off to know we aren’t responsible for people to accept the truth. We just have to share it!

  3. Thank you for these tips. I’m naturally shy because honestly, I’m not good at small talk with new people. These tips are helpful to step outside my comfort zone!

  4. “People talk to strangers about experiences with their kids, their pets and their spouses.” Such a great reminder! We have no qualms talking about the above topics. I agree that drawing from our experiences is a great way to meet strangers where they are and not presenting as too upfront and in your face which may turn someone off.

  5. I talk about Jesus all the time…in fact, the fear that gets me is my Christian friends getting embarrassed because I brought up Jesus.
    I want to have a better way of taking it from talking about Jesus to presenting the gospel, and leading someone to Christ – and yet, sometimes I think I’m the seed person…the one to let others know that there are Christians that just show love…and compassion…and concern for them as a human, not as a notch in their gospel gun. And, I pray that those friends that are embarrassed become emboldened to share their light with others.

    1. That’s a great point – sometimes God simply asks us to share love and reveal our love for Him as opposed to lay out the entire gospel message. While being willing to do just that if He asks it of us!

  6. Yes!! It’s selfish fear that causes us to not share our faith. Whatever we fear to lose is an idol that we love more than Jesus. I think another problem is a lack of love. We have cold hearts. If we truly loved the lost, we would do everything we could (like mention something personal from our own lives) to bridge the gap and enable someone else to draw closer to God.

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