The Gospels are full of accounts of Jesus asking people questions:
- Who do people say I am? (Matthew 16:13)
- How many loaves do you have? (Matthew 15:34)
- What do you want me to do for you? (Matthew 20:32)
In total, the Gospels record 339 questions asked by Jesus. This is despite the fact that, being God, He already knew the answers. So why did He ask so many questions? Questions invite relationship. They force the other person to think for themselves. They start conversations. They create engagement.
If you’re looking for a natural way to have spiritual conversations with someone, one of the best ways to do that is by asking questions. Most people don’t like to listen to other people talk about themselves and what they believe. Unless they ask, they don’t want to hear a lecture or a sermon.
We discussed this in a recent episode of Indigitous PULSE about how to use social media for God. These principles apply not only to social media conversations but to any conversation.
Get people talking about themselves
“People want to talk about themselves,” says Mariana Pando-Romero, a social media strategist with OneHope. “They want someone to hear them. They want safe spaces where they can share their heart, they can share what they think without being judged.”
To have a good spiritual conversation about a topic, before you offer your own point of view, ask the other person’s perspective. Then listen. Like, really listen. In his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie talks about a dinner party he attended where one of the other guests talked to him all night, with Dale barely getting a word in. Afterwards, the person remarked about what a great conversationalist Dale was.
Be a good listener
When having a spiritual conversation with someone, whether on social media or in person, be that kind of a listener. Be interested in what they have to say and encourage them to share as much as they wish.
In his book, Dale says “if you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other persons will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves.”
One of the core tenets of his book is that people are naturally selfish and only care about themselves. That’s why if you want people to be interested in the spiritual conversation you want to have, you must make the conversation about them.
“It shouldn’t be about us,” Mariana says. “It should be about people. We are trying to reach people so it should be about them.”
Let the person you’re conversing with do most of the talking. Let them tell their story, talk about their beliefs, their interests, their questions, and concerns. There may be a natural transition where they will ask for your perspective and you can then share what you believe (hint: it involves Jesus), but if that doesn’t happen, that part of the conversation can wait until next time. This is about building relationships and that takes time. If you can focus on loving the other person well, asking them questions, and showing that you care about what they have to say, that will go a long way.
Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. (Habakkuk 2:2)
- Pray about a person/people in your life with whom you should have a spiritual conversation.
- Start by asking them questions, getting them to talk about themselves and their beliefs. Use that to build a relationship where you have the trust and engagement to share about your relationship with God.