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Starting a Conversation about Jesus

Krystal Smith - Contributing Writer

For many Christians, talking about Jesus with someone outside the faith is a daunting task. This can especially be the case for Bible-believing college students, like me, who want to engage classmates in dialogue about God.

Mark 16 commands us to share our faith. For me, it’s one of the greatest joys of being at college.

"Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God's good news to one and all. Whoever believes and is baptized is saved; whoever refuses to believe is damned." Mark 16:16 (The Message)

Here's some advice on how to strike up a conversation about Jesus with anyone.

1. Listen well.

This sounds easy enough, but the reality is that very few of us listen well. We get hung up on what they say rather than finding out what they deeply believe.

If you don't listen well, what you say will not resonate. Engaging conversations are never one-sided. Show you value them by hearing their story. Allow the interaction to be a conversation, not a sermon.

2. Create space.

Creating safe space is often the essence of counseling. As Americans, we tend to be afraid of conversational space. As soon as there is a pause in the conversation, we try to fill it. Let that space be. It sometimes is holy space.

Give people time to think. See what they say when they are not prompted or interrupted. A lot of people never have anyone who is listening well enough to give them space to reflect or to be vulnerable.

Two Ways to Create Space

Ask questions. Ask thoughtful questions and give the person time to answer. Let the conversation be organic. Nobody likes to be pitched something. Don't pitch Jesus. Just share about Him.

If they say something interesting, inquire about it. You don't even have to start the conversation directly asking about God. Ask them:

  • What is your passion?
  • What's your goal in life?
  • What makes you happy?
  • What do you believe?

Reflect. Reflecting is an amazing skill I learned in my social work classes. It's simple; all you do is repeat what the person just said to clarify what they mean. So, you say something like: "So you feel ______" or "So you are struggling with _______". Then, pause and create the space for them to continue reflecting on their thought.

Time and time again, these skills have led people to ask ME what I believe. Your classmates, friends and coworkers will become genuinely interested in hearing about Jesus.

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