Jesus was a master at turning casual conversations into life-changing moments.
Whether it was a conversation with a powerful religious leader under the cover of night, or a very public discussion with the town’s most corrupt businessman, Jesus knew how to meet people where they were and move the conversation toward spiritual things. How did He do it? How did He take the most mundane moments and make them defining moments? Those are the questions I’ve been trying to answer for some time.
When I was a young Christian, I wanted to share my faith, but I felt so awkward bringing up the subject. It felt like I was grinding the relational gears, trying to force a conversation with someone who wasn’t interested. It just seemed like such a jump from, “How do you like the weather?” to, “If you were to die tonight, where would you spend eternity?” most of the time people would just reply politely, but exit the conversation as soon as possible.
On the other hand, I didn’t want to “cold call” people and jump into a slick presentation that felt more like I was selling something, rather than sharing about a person who changed my life. This question of “getting into the conversation” has been a big one for me over the years. I’ve tried many different approaches. After talking to people who are really good at sharing their faith, I’ve discovered a technique that Jesus used masterfully. In almost every conversation, Jesus worked to move the discussion from the casual and common to the spiritual and significant.
How Jesus moved conversations
Let’s go back to John 4 and Jesus’ discussion with the woman at the well. He begins with a very casual conversation, a brief discussion about water. He simply initiates a conversation, asking this woman for a drink. Then, when He has her attention, He takes the conversation a bit deeper, talking about her life and asking her to call her husband. When she admits that she doesn’t have a husband, Jesus dives deeper into a meaningful conversation about the struggles she is facing.
This strikes a chord with her, and she quickly tries to derail the conversation by bringing up a controversial issue about where is the best place to worship. But even then, Jesus seizes the moment to bring up spiritual issues, talking about the kind of worshiper the Father is seeking.
When she says, “One day the Messiah will make all of this clear,” Jesus reveals Himself as the one she has been looking for — the messiah has come. I have studied this passage many times over the years, and one day it occurred to me that Jesus was intentionally moving the conversation with the woman along. In fact, He guided this woman through five levels of conversation, each more meaningful and more significant than the previous. The person who is good at sharing his or her faith knows how to move conversations. I’m going to show you how to do just that.
Start with casual conversation
In the example of the Samaritan woman, Jesus took the risk and started the conversation. In those days, men didn’t talk to women — especially Jewish men to Samaritan women. There was a huge social gap between these two people. But Jesus decided to take a risk and start talking.
This is where every conversation begins. Someone has to start talking. This may be the most difficult hurdle to jump over when it comes to conversations. It is easier to sit in silence, read a book, scroll through your phone, put in your ear buds, roll up your window, look the other way, or do just about anything but talk. many times people simply don’t want to get into a conversation, so they make reflex decisions to look the other way, or ignore the people around them. We can justify this kind of behavior by thinking, “I’m busy right now,” or, “I don’t have time for a deep discussion.”
But if no one ever talks, then how can anyone hear about Christ? If you don’t open your mouth, then how can you share what God has done for you? The first step is just to start talking.
So, how do you start talking to someone you don’t know? Jesus started with casual conversation. He engaged this woman in talking about what she was doing at the time — drawing water. Usually, the best way to meet someone new is to start talking as soon as you can. You can simply introduce yourself and ask for their name. That’s always a great place to start.
You can comment on something they are doing or a common experience. You might say something like, “The mall sure is packed today,” or, “Planes really make me feel uneasy.” You might notice something about that person and comment on it. If they are wearing a Dallas Cowboys hat, you could say, “How about those Cowboys?” If they are sporting a university logo, you could comment on their school.
There are many ways to get into a conversation, but the first step is casual talk. Casual talk is not about the person; it’s about the circumstances or surroundings.
This blog features an excerpt from our book, Walk With God.
This post originally appeared at: Every conversation has the potential to be life changing. – discipleFIRST