Jesus was a master of asking questions. He never seems to approach a person the same way – why? Because He was announcing terms of surrender to each individual according to his/her issue of control or self –rule. He was confronting each person with his/her power dominion that was keeping them from His Kingdom. The rich young ruler had his alternative kingdom of wealth (Luke 18:18-30). Nicodemus had his kingdom of influence, prominence, and power (John 3:1-16). The Samaritan woman had her kingdom of masculine strength to depend on (John 4: 1-26). All of them were asked to let go of their self-made kingdoms in different words and different ways, but the central concern of our Lord was the same – to whom will you give your allegiance?
When approaching people I am always looking for ways to discover where that person is in relationship to their point of control and therefore where they are in regards to Christ. I also have learned that even though I am very intentional, and graciously assertive, I have a deep abiding love, concern, passion, and interest in other people. I can and do learn from anyone, including people that are outside of a faith in Christ. I strike up conversations with many individuals as I find it interesting, challenging and deeply rewarding to attempt to bring people closer to Jesus Christ or to educate them in regards to principles about the Kingdom of God.
The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:14. “For Christ’s love compels (constrains KJV, controls NASV, NLT) us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.”
I am very intentional but I allow others to be directional.
Many times I let other people dictate the direction of the conversation by my asking additional questions based on their comments. Therefore, I clearly do not know exactly what direction the dialogue will go. However, as you and I pray and initiate conversations I believe we enter into the work of the Father as He draws people to Himself.
Here are some of the open-ended questions I ask people as the situation allows. These are in no particular order.
- What is your family background? (Or, Tell me about your family.)
- Describe your home life growing up.
- What was you relationship with you father, mother, sisters or brothers?
- What are your hobbies, interests?
- Are you fulfilled in what you are doing?
- What is your concept of God or a supreme being?
- Name some of the greatest obstacles you have to believing in God? (or Christ)
- Describe your spiritual background if any. Was this a positive experience or a negative one? Why or why not?
- When Linda and I are sitting down to eat at a restaurant and have ordered our food, one of us will ask the server, “We usually pray and thank Christ for our food. Is there anything that we could pray for you about?”
(Only three or four times have individuals told us they have no needs out of the myriad opportunities we have had.)
- Who is Jesus Christ according to your understanding?
- What kind of work/business are you involved in? Where would you say you are in regards to your spiritual pilgrimage?
- What is your definition of a Christian?
- What is most important to you?
- What do you think of Christianity? How did you arrive at such a conclusion?
- If you were to face God today what would you say to Him that would allow you to enter His heaven?
1 Corinthians 3:6,8 (NASB) “ I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.”
We are called to sow seeds of truth as well as to bring in the harvest. Many of the above questions are “planting” questions that will encourage people to look deeper into Christianity.
Stories of Spiritual Encounters
A couple of weeks ago Linda and I came back from a walk in Oregon City, looking at the older historical homes. We dropped into a Starbucks. I was putting cream in my coffee and a gal knelt down beside me looking through the newspapers. She said, “I’m looking for a coupon to take for a sale that’s happening in a local store. I’m sure that Starbucks will not care if I steal their coupon!”
In a friendly manner I said, “Really, that ought not to be your greatest concern. She said, “What do you mean?” I replied, “Well, every one of us must live our lives for the audience of One.” She asked. “Who is that?” I said, “There is only one person that we must please and that is Jesus Christ.” She said, “Oh I never really thought of it like that!” I said, “It is true for us also. No matter who is looking, He is.”
Of course, we do not know what was going on in her mind since it was such a brief encounter, but it is interesting how the Lord brings people into our lives that He uses to speak to us and for us to speak to them, and perhaps what I said to this woman will help her in the future somehow. We all have choices to speak up and speak out, don’t we? If we are willing, He will use us at the junctures of our lives and in the lives of others.
Read the wise words of Proverbs 4:20 (NASB) “Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established.”
In the next months we plan to tell more stories of spiritual conversations. I will keep an archive of these for you to access.
I want to encourage you to create your own stories by engaging people that are within your sphere of relationships.
1 Corinthians 10:11 is insightful. Paul is teaching the Corinthians the important lesson to learn from the past even if it is about the failures of those who went before them. “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages have come.” I am telling these stories that you might have ideas to start up conversations with others yourselves.
Feel free to email me your conversations and let me know if I have permission to publish them on my website with your name.