By Karen Morris
31 November 2022
Talking about Jesus with our friends seems an impossible task, even when we want to. We chat about the issues of the day, but never seem to engage at any depth.
Evangelist Becky Pippert offers a very useful idea. I call it the conversation spiral. Pippert suggests that good conversations have the following pattern.
“General Questions” are those which lead to conversations which bounce around topics and are often just banter. These are the questions most people ask in conversation.
“Specific Questions” relate to the inner world of the person. They are questions about feelings, reasons for opinions or the impact of the topic on the person.
“God Questions” are obviously those that relate to the spiritual dimension of the topic. They are often connected to values, ethics, worldview or faith.
They could also be called external, internal and eternal questions, and I suggest you practice making up sets of three questions.
Here’s an example. Topic: Asylum Seekers.
- General: What do you think of the Australian attitude to asylum seekers?
- Specific: How would you want your children to be treated in this sort of case?
- God: How do we fix injustice in the world? Is there any way?
Developing sets of possible questions is a way of having deeper conversations, not because you’ll trot them out on demand, but because you’ll train yourself in a different conversation style.
Here’s another set. Topic: Celebrities
- General: X (the latest celebrity) has lost their way. What do you think?
- Specific: Have you ever lost your way?
- God: Where do you go if you lose your way?
As you go through this week note the topics of your conversations. Spend 30 minutes writing down a set of three questions for each topic as a way of developing the skill. Next week, notice the openings for specific questions and God questions and use them if you can.
Given that it’s nearly Christmas here’s a suggestion for conversation:
- General: What are your family traditions at Christmas?
- Specific: Where did those traditions originate? How do they impact you?
- God: What spiritual aspects of Christmas appeal to you?
The only problem with these questions is that you might have a deeper conversation! And then what will you do? Do you have a way of explaining the central ideas of Christianity one minute? Can you answer, succinctly and without jargon, the question: “What do Christians believe?” This is obviously the next step.
Learning how to answer this question is vital. There are many outlines of the gospel you can learn. In Evangelism in a Skeptical World Sam Chan outlines a few and suggests his own. I think our culture is very visual and so I use a diagram to explain the gospel. You can find my training video here: bit.ly/3dSB4dF.
Notice that I haven’t explained every possible thing about the gospel, just the bare minimum: Jesus lived, died and was resurrected for my sin! If that statement is true, it changes everything, both for you and your friend and they need to know it!
Karen loves telling people about Jesus, and is keen to help others do the same. She ministers as an evangelist with the Monash University Christian Union and in her community.