Reaching Out

6 Conversational Tips from the Master Himself

The message about Jesus is good news, and is most effectively shared in interpersonal conversations. Conversational evangelism was Jesus’ preferred approach. In John 4, Jesus is walking through Samaria, and stops to sit down. A woman approaches him and He asks her for a drink. They talk and He asks her to go find her husband. She replies she has been in multiple relationships and her current man is not her husband. She asks Jesus a question about the temple, and He tells her people can worship God anywhere. She asks Him about the Messiah, and He says He is the Christ. She runs and tells her whole village to come meet Jesus.
This famous story is a great model for us to introduce people to Jesus. Six things Jesus does with the Samaritan woman that we can emulate:
1) Start Conversations with Anyone
In John 4, Jesus spoke with a Samaritan – the hated enemy of the Jews. She is also a woman, and a Jewish man would never normally speak with her alone. However, Jesus initiates a conversation with her.
TRY STARTING: We all have friends we spend time with. But there are many others we can interact with: people in the workplace, neighborhood, supermarket, or coffee shop. Why not see every person we meet as a potential conversation partner?
2. Adjust Your Life Patterns to Make Conversations Possible
Jesus met the woman while on a journey. He could have walked around Samaria, but walked into it so He could connect with people who need Him.
TRY ADJUSTING: Join a club focused on your favorite hobby, go to a different restaurant, shop at a different store, or sit next to someone new at a public event. If you’re not talking to people who need Jesus, make small changes so that you can. Consider trading a church event for the opportunity to do things with people who don’t know Jesus.
3. Chat about Everyday Life
Jesus began by asking the woman for a drink of water. He didn’t say, “Let Me tell you about the Messiah—He’s me!” He knows any serious conversation is just a hair’s breadth away from the gospel.
TRY CHATTING: Tell them a story about your day. Ask them how their week has been, what they’ve enjoyed eating, reading, or watching. Start light and see where the conversation goes. The worst case is you have an interesting chat.
4. Ask Questions
Jesus suggests that the woman go find her husband. He could have told her she was using romantic relationships in a futile search for meaning. Instead, he asks a razor-sharp question that addresses who she is as a person.
TRY ASKING: Don’t think of yourself as the expert. Until you’ve asked some questions, you may not know how to relate the gospel to their lives.
5. Listen to Questions, Then Answer the Question Behind the Questions
The woman wants to know whether the Jewish temple or the Samaritan temple is the true place of worship. Jesus knows she is asking Him to state whether Jews or Samaritans are following the true religion. Instead, Jesus points her beyond religious places, toward relationship with Himself.
TRY LISTENING: Try not to argue, but get to the core of their concerns. For example, a question about the biblical teaching on homosexuality may really be asking: “Am I welcome in your Christian community?” or “Do you look down on me?” A good way to discern the underlying question<> is to say, “Good question, what do you think?” and then listen to what they say.
6. Share Jesus
The pinnacle of Jesus’ conversation with the woman comes when He tells her that He is the Messiah. She is so amazed, she runs and brings the whole village to come and meet Him for themselves.
TRY SHARING: A helpful question to ask yourself (and the Holy Spirit) is “How is Jesus good news for this person?” Is there a story about Jesus that is relevant to what you are discussing? Is a part of your personal testimony<> helpful? Share it and ask them what they think.
If people seem receptive, then it’s good to give them the opportunity to respond to Jesus. Ask them if they would like to welcome Jesus into their lives. If they say yes, find a quiet corner and pray together. Jesus never had the same conversation twice, so there is no one formula for sharing our faith. But we can draw inspiration from Jesus’ interactions with people. So let us go forth with the love and truth of Christ and witness to all He brings across our path, for time is short, eternity is forever, and we are not guaranteed tomorrow.

Adapted from article by Luke Cawley
InterVarsity Evangelism
To God be the glory