“It’s all right telling me to make the most of every opportunity, but I just don’t seem to get any opportunities to talk about my faith! What can I do?”
1) Pray for opportunities
This might seem obvious, but it’s extraordinary how little most of us do deliberately pray for chances to talk about our faith. On the other hand, it’s the experience of many that God consistently answers such prayers.
2) Live the life
Our behaviour at work or elsewhere really is noticed. For many, the first step taken on the road to Christian faith is a silent step – they just notice the difference in the lives of Christians they know. Of course we live primarily to please God. But it’s worth keeping in mind too what others are thinking about us.
3) Tweak your week
There are all sorts of slots in our week which, with a bit of ‘tweaking’, could lead to more relationship-building opporutnities. If you like to keep fit, why not do an exercise class or take up tennis rather than pump iron on your own? If you must pump iron, then how about hitting the gym at the same time every week, so that you run into the same people repeatedly?
4) Party with purpose
It’s great to get people into our homes, but it can seem a bit ‘intense’ if we don’t know them well. One solution is to make the most of natural occasions to celebrate: moving house, a birthday, Christian, etc. Whatever the occasion, use it as an excuse to invite lots of contacts. And while you’re at it, invite a few Christian friends too, so as to get a few conversations started.
5) Plan for spontaneity
On the same theme of ‘lightness of touch’, it can seem much less ‘heavy’ to invite someone out for a drink spontaneously rather than weeks in advance. The trouble is sometimes our diaries are so jam-packed, there’s no room on our commitments to leave time for those spur-of-the-moment opportunities.
6) Push the chat
There are many people with whom we have superficial dealings on quite a regulary basis. Fellow-commuters on the train, the newsagent, neighbours and so on. It doesn’t take much to say just one thing more than social convention dictates (the trains, the weather etc.) and – hey presto – a conversation is struck up. Do the same thing next time and a relationship is born.
7) Ask the questions
Asking questions is great because a) most people love talking about themselves and b) if they’ve got an ounce of courtesy in them, they’ll eventually ask you the same question back. It works as well for high-level conversations (“What’s your view on…?”) as for low intensity ones (“What are you doing this weekend?”) The former is harder to do ‘naturally’, but leads straight to a direct gospel opportunity. The latter is easy, and can lead to talking about church, Christian camps, and so on.
8) Raise the issues
Our Christian convictions involve concepts, ideas and beliefs. But most of our everyday conversations tend to be about things, events or people. If we’re to create gospel opportunities, then, we need to try and turn conversations from events that happen to the issues arising from those events. Try reading the headlines (i.e. the facts) and then skip straight to the editorials (i.e. the analysis), and think each day, perhaps on the way to work, about what Christian response might be.
9) Think of individuals
Most people are pretty reluctant to speak publicly about deeply held beliefs. So, unless you’ve got a razor-sharp mind and can win any argument while remaining gracious (!), it can be tricky talking about spiritual issues in a crowd. But think about ways of bumping into people on their own – going to lunch late, arriving at work early, sitting at the end of the table in the pub rather than than the middle – as one-to-one conversations are the best way to have meaningful chats.
10) Make it personal
Our faith ultimately rests not on our experience, but on the truth of how God has acted uniquely in history. However, the questions people bring to spiritual matters are less along the lines of “Is it true?” and more about “Does it work for you?” The great thing is, of course, that it does work for us! So take some time to think about ways of describing your personal spiritual experience in a way that might prompt others to ask questions about Christ.