So you’ve got to the point where a friend is open to looking at the claims of Jesus with you.
You’ve got this little booklet – A Better Life – with a few conversation starters from John’s Gospel. Here’s how the scenario might go, with a few top-tips on getting started…
BEFORE THE CONVERSATION
Your friend has agreed to have a look at this booklet with you over a drink after work. You’re surprised, encouraged, and a bit nervous about how it’s going to go! First things first…
Pray for a good conversation which points to Jesus. Pray for their eyes to be opened. Pray for courage to speak and confidence in the word of God.
Practice by having a read through in advance. Be familiar with the material; even if you just turn up five minutes earlier and read it while you wait! And why not practice with a Christian friend; that can be a good way of gaining confidence, meeting up and have a ‘trial run’.
DURING THE CONVERSATION
Your friend has turned up (amazingly), and sat down opposite you at the table in the pub. Now what?
Preamble, by which I mean, don’t be weird. Start by talking about the football or how the kids are getting on or the great TV programme you watched last night. Be normal. Get the conversation going. But don’t faff around – you both know why you’re there. They’re waiting on you to kick it off. If you know you’ve only got 45 minutes and you spend the first 30 talking about the Champions League result, then your preamble has become procrastination. Preamble, but then get to it.
Proceed to read the passage out loud, if the setting allows. As you do, encourage them to underline bits they don’t understand, or scribble down questions.
Presume ignorance, as you begin to work your way through the questions provided. Assume people don’t understand bible words like “sin” and the significance of the “temple curtain”. Offer simple explanations where you are able to, and ask simple questions!
Prompt Bible discussion, by using open questions like: “What do you think…?” and “Why do you think…?”, and keep pointing people back to the Bible! You might find that the conversation can drift, or the person you’re reading with can come with a bit of an agenda. And so keep asking questions and pointing people back to the passage.
Provoke further thought, or in other words, ‘Leave ‘em hanging’. Obviously if they want to become a Christian there and then, don’t leave them hanging. But often, more time needed. That’s why the ‘Food for Thought’ question is there – just a question for people to go away and chew over – you want people to go away with a stone in their shoe about who Jesus is, something for them to ponder for the rest of the week.
Pray the whole time. Just quietly, in your head. For the Spirit’s help as you try and answer questions. For soft ground for seed to be planted in.
AFTER THE CONVERSATION
You’ve said your goodbyes, and you’re delighted that you managed to get through the whole conversation, and your friend even asked some good questions!
Praise God as you leave, for the opportunity to do some seed-sowing! Honestly, nothing beats it (even if you think it went dreadfully).
Prioritise another meeting with your friend – get something in the diary (another conversation, a social activity, an invite to an event or course). Continue to invest in the relationship with that person, and look for more opportunities to continue the conversation.
So there you go – some suggestions on how to get started using A Better Life.
Why not pray for an opportunity this week?
And if you’ve got other suggestions or stories from experiences you’ve had, get in touch and share them!