2. Find common ground
You probably have some things in common, so have fun discovering what you both like doing. Build a relational bridge that overcomes any spiritual distance between the two of you.
Welcome to Cru Sites Stage. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!
“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5, NIV).
This Christmas I want to experience the gift of Jesus himself and the light he brings into my life. As I do this, I believe I’m better prepared to offer the gift of his life to people I’ll come in contact with. That’s a gift we could all use.
If we’re not careful, the word “gift” can cause more busyness and stress than joy and celebration.
This past Saturday morning I had a million things rushing through my mind. In the middle of feeling so distracted, a picture came to me. It was of a snow globe with flurries of snow in constant motion.
I was busy with all my good intentions of “doing advent,” and was paying attention to my list of gifts to buy and rooms to decorate. I needed to be still and let the flurries fall away so I could see clearly what to focus my heart and mind on.
I remembered that life comes from Jesus. God gave his only Son as the ultimate gift to humanity, to bring us into his family. He is my best gift and my truest treasure. He is what I most want to offer everyone I have a meaningful conversation with over Christmas.
My picture of a snow globe simply reminded me that if I want to give anyone the gift of knowing what it’s like to enjoy Jesus during the Christmas season, I need to take the time to enjoy him myself.
As a reader of our content, have you ever thought about sending it to someone you want to encourage? If you find our articles and stories helpful, that person might too.
Our prayer is that the practical tips and encouragement in each email help you feel more confident in talking about God. We hope this empowers you to play your part in whatever God’s doing in the lives of your friends, family and co-workers.
Do you know anyone who would benefit from a gift that grows his or her confidence in talking about the gospel?
Simply click here to email “Conversations” to a friend or family member.
How willing do you think people are these days to talk about spiritual things? In particular, I’m thinking about the people you know who would not call themselves Christians. Some people genuinely do not want to talk about this stuff, but I’m amazed by the number of people who really do.
My friend Charmaine Lillestrand works with the City Ministry of Cru. She helped lead in-depth research into how and when people want to talk about spiritual things.
Charmaine says, “Large numbers of people are ready and willing to have meaningful spiritual conversations about God. But these people need to be approached with sensitivity and empathy. We can do that if we take the time to think about what they need from us.”
Charmaine’s research suggests that when certain conditions are in place, a spiritually curious person is more open to having an honest conversation with a Christian about what he or she believes.
These five behaviors could help someone in your life feel safe enough to have that conversation with you.
Instead of looking to get your words out, pray as you listen for insight into the other person’s life. Follow the conversation rather than trying to drive or control it too strongly.
You probably have some things in common, so have fun discovering what you both like doing. Build a relational bridge that overcomes any spiritual distance between the two of you.
Set out to understand the other person, including the hurts and joys he or she has experienced. How can God use you in that person’s story?
Try to imagine which words are foreign to someone you want to speak to. Even terms that feel core to explaining the gospel — like sin and judgment — might be foreign or carry a different meaning for the other person.
People feel stupid when they struggle to understand the words we use when talking about God. This is the last thing we want.
Most people understand there is a decision to be made surrounding Jesus. What they have yet to discover is whether following him is worth it. They need to hear why you believe it is.
So tell them what difference Jesus makes in your life today.
Far more people than we might think are ready and willing to talk with us about spiritual things if we can approach them in this way. This is not what many people expect from us as Christians, though. So we need to ask God to help us communicate in this way.
Find out more about the research we’ve referenced here by reading “How people really want to talk about Jesus.”
A great way to show the power of the gospel to people in your life is by sharing how God brings you hope.
The apostle Peter encourages us, “If someone asks you about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it” (1 Peter 3:15).
Let’s talk about how to share from your own life how knowing God brings you hope. We’ll call this a God story.
Which of these two stories would be more compelling to a friend who struggles with anxiety?
“When I was 12 I went to a summer camp and had an awesome experience. I got baptized, and now I go to church most Sundays. Last Sunday the pastor preached about anxiety and it was really good. Do you want to come to church with me?”
“Last week I had a conflict with a co-worker that caused me a lot of anxiety. But at church on Sunday the pastor shared a Bible verse about how Jesus helps us carry our burdens. I realized I do not have to deal with my anxiety alone. I was able to resolve the issue at work because I knew Jesus was with me. Can I show you that Bible verse and hear what you think?”
While the first story was good in some ways, the second story would be more empathetic and compelling.
Let’s look at a few tips for sharing a compelling God story.
Ultimately your story is less about you and more about what God is doing in and through you.
You can make Jesus the hero of your story by answering three questions:
You might have experienced God working through someone you know, like a pastor, mentor or friend.
It’s great to share how God worked through those people. But try keeping it centered on Jesus, not on another individual or organization.
For example, the theme in our story was anxiety.
Choosing a time when you noticed Jesus work in a specific way will give your story and your conversation more focus.
You’re inviting your friend to take a step toward Jesus or to reflect on his or her own life.
Here are two questions you could ask someone:
Sharing a personal story shows how the gospel changes your life.
With a little preparation and practice, you can always be ready to explain the hope you have in Jesus.
You never know how God could use a story from your life to open doors to deeper spiritual conversations.
This content was adapted from one of the lessons we recently made available in the GodTools app.
Watch this video to find out how GodTools Lessons can help you have the conversation you’ve been praying for.
Easter for me as a kid involved waking up to baskets of candy, going to church and maybe an Easter egg hunt. It always felt like a weird, uninteresting holiday that no one really knew what to do with.
Several years later I was baptized on Easter Sunday and my life has never been the same. For me, Easter now represents more than Jesus’ death and resurrection. It represents the new life I have because of my relationship with him.
I think Easter is an opportunity for meaningful conversations about Jesus that’s too good to miss.
So I hope these ideas help you start a conversation with someone you know about the meaning and relevance of Easter.
Take advantage of what churches in your area are doing. Invite your friends, family, neighbors or co-workers to a service, or an Easter egg hunt. Or you could also host a lunch after a service.
Your goal is to provide a comfortable environment for the conversations you want to have.
Start a conversation by asking questions like:
Try to help the other person understand why the resurrection is so important to the message and story of Jesus. It’s about Jesus demonstrating his ultimate victory over death and providing a pathway to new life for anyone who believes in him.
We’ve all experienced the sting of death. It might be in a literal sense through the loss of a loved one. Or it might also be the death of an ambition, a relationship, or a future we had hoped for.
We are looking for common ground with the person we’re having a conversation with. The need for hope is something we all share, so thinking of resurrection in that way can help.
Resurrection becomes our source of hope once we recognize that we live in a dying world in need of new life.
So what if you created space this Easter to talk about the hard things in your life that you need God to breathe resurrection power or new life into?
Here are some questions you could ask in conversation:
This is an opportunity to empathize with and relate to the other person’s story through your shared or similar experiences.
My resurrection story is about Jesus setting me free from the need to achieve perfection. It centers on that Easter Sunday in 2011 when I was baptized. Ever since that day God has continued writing chapters in my story by helping me find new life in him.
Talk about ways you experienced spiritual death and discovered your need for the hope you’ve found in Jesus. Here’s one way to share your story.
At the end of the story, continue the conversation by asking something like, “Is there an area of your life where you’d like God to bring new life?” The person’s answer might open a door to communicate more of the gospel or another part of Jesus’ story.
In a world desperately in need of hope, there is good news. Jesus is alive!
I hope this Easter is extra meaningful for you as you invite people to discover resurrection life.
We’re living at a moment in time when people are hungry for conversations about ideas like hope, community and security. As Christians, we’re experiencing the same things everyone around us is experiencing, but we have a unique perspective. We have different answers to the same questions our friends, neighbors and co-workers are asking.
In this edition of “Conversations” we’ll think about some common elements of discussing the gospel.
gospel conversation — noun: two or more people discussing the good news of Jesus
Anytime you talk about what Jesus has done and continues doing for humanity — or how he provides a way to know God personally — you’re having a gospel conversation. Equally, whenever you tell someone why Jesus makes a difference in how you live your life, you’re having a gospel conversation.
Many of us struggle with bringing the gospel into the conversations we have with people every day. It feels unnatural to bring up Jesus or his message. But if Jesus’ teachings are relevant today, they apply to what we’re already talking about when we talk about our lives.
Here are three ways you have a gospel conversation about everyday life:
You and your friend realize you’re both perfectionists. Try discussing how you each find freedom from the need to be perfect.
Someone tells you about a fear he or she wants to overcome in life. Look for ways to start a conversation about peace, and where it can be found.
Your family member finds his or her fulfillment in a particular relationship or a certain career. Look for opportunities to talk about whether life has a bigger meaning or purpose.
One crucial quality of a gospel conversation is that it hopefully leads toward an invitation and the possibility of a decision about following Jesus. How and when that happens is flexible and depends on the individuals involved.
You do not need to follow a script or formula. You’re not expected to cover everything in one conversation. But remember, you want the other person to understand the gospel so he or she can eventually respond to Jesus’ invitation to know him. The tools in the GodTools app will guide you through this process.
If talking about Jesus feels intimidating, we recommend looking through the Teach Me To Share tool before your conversation. You could also practice going through a gospel presentation like Knowing God Personally with another Christian. This gives you a chance to think about how you’ll connect the message with things you’ve already been talking to someone about.
If you and your friend are not used to having conversations like this, you could also start with something that feels less serious and more fun, like our Emoji Survey.
It really is possible for gospel conversations to become a natural part of your everyday life. Ask God for opportunities and the courage to take them when he answers.
A great conversation is a mysterious thing. It can feel like stars aligning. Two or more people share a desire to dig deeper into ideas they care about, or to take a friendship to a new level. Meaningful conversations feel like the right people, place and moment converging in a way you could never plan.
But at the same time, those of us who want to have conversations about Jesus cannot always wait for “the perfect moment.” So how can we be ready for the conversations we pray will come?
In this issue of “Conversations” we’ll share three secrets to preparing well for discussions you hope to have about Jesus.
Great conversations often break down when we put ourselves under unnecessary pressure about how it’s supposed to go. Perhaps we have a really specific picture in our minds of what sharing the gospel looks like. We imagine explaining a set of truths in a certain order with a particular prayer of commitment at the end.
Using a gospel presentation tool can be a really helpful way of walking someone through the message of Jesus. The GodTools app offers some great options. But having a great conversation about the gospel can look very different depending on who’s involved.
By telling yourself there’s only one successful outcome to your conversation you risk damaging the trust you’re building. We’re often better served by just listening well and talking about our relationship with Jesus as it relates to everyday life.
Your personal story of becoming a follower of Jesus and what that means on a daily basis is one of the most powerful things you bring to any conversation. How well do you know your own story?
It’s worth taking some time to think about your story because God wants to use it. Your experiences can help the people in your life understand what it really means to experience the love, hope and purpose only God provides.
You can connect your own story with things your friend enjoys talking about: family, relationships, career or common struggles we face in life.
Do you want to learn more about how to share your personal experiences of the gospel?
Find our lesson “The power of your God story” in the GodTools app now.
Sometimes you’ll have a long uninterrupted conversation. Other times it may be five or ten minutes during a lunch break at work or at a social event. Feeling ready for any conversation involves being able to adapt to different people and situations.
Focus on understanding the person you’re talking with. And trust God to help you know how to talk about the gospel in a way that feels relevant to that person.
The GodTools app guides you before, during and after a gospel conversation. It includes tips about starting conversations, as well as explaining the gospel and helping someone respond to it.
GodTools Tip: Spend five minutes each day this week getting familiar with the content in our tools, including the Tips we’ve recently added. By the end of the week you’ll know which tool you feel most comfortable using in a conversation.
We love hearing about the conversations you’re having, whether you choose to use GodTools or not.
Please let us know what you’re learning as you talk about the gospel with the people in your life. Email email@example.com.
What would you normally think of as an everyday conversation? Maybe you’d talk to a colleague at work about sports, a TV show you love, or your plans for the coming weekend.
Well, your everyday conversations may have changed in some way this past year.
Here are some topics I now regularly talk about with friends, family and people I work with.
I do still talk to people about what I’m watching on Netflix sometimes. But with so much less face-to-face time with anyone, and our circumstances changing in such significant ways, the way we relate and what we talk about is changing too.
People are recognizing that saying “I’m fine” to anyone who asks how you’re doing just sounds hollow and inauthentic in the midst of this pandemic.
No one in my immediate family has contracted COVID-19. But in one way or another my wife and I, and all three of our children, have shown signs of mental and emotional wear and tear. Lockdown has made our world smaller and taken away so many aspects of normal life that we took for granted. The longer it lasts, the harder it becomes.
So we’ve made a decision to stop pretending everything is basically okay. We’re trying to be honest and transparent with people who care enough to ask how we are.
So in this issue of “Conversations” we’re thinking about how conversations about emotional and mental health provide opportunities to discuss spiritual things.
So many great conversations about the gospel start by talking about something else. They begin as conversations about something both people have experienced.
As Christians we run the risk of thinking of gospel conversations as “us explaining and someone else trying to understand.” Thinking that way will lead us to miss God-given opportunities to connect with people in meaningful ways.
Many of the best conversations I’ve had with people about the gospel began with both of us asking each other about some aspect of our everyday life.
Normally, we begin connecting with someone by talking about something that feels like common ground. Then, as we talk openly about how our faith impacts every aspect of our life, the conversation transitions to spiritual things.
So many people are either thinking about or personally experiencing COVID-19’s effects on mental and emotional health that it’s become the common ground on which we can connect.
A global pandemic, with no country or community left untouched, is something we’re all going through. If it touches almost every aspect of the way we live in some way, that has to have spiritual implications.
Sometimes we create an unhelpful divide between what we think of as spiritual or non-spiritual conversations.
Not all conversations about these topics will feel spiritual. You may not talk about Jesus or the gospel specifically. But if you and another person are talking about how hopeful you feel, you’re taking a real step toward talking about where each of you finds hope.
Conversations about how you’re really doing can open doors for you to describe the difference that walking through life with Jesus makes.
As I talk with friends who do not believe the same things I do, they sometimes ask me how my faith influences the way I respond to the unique challenges we’re all facing right now.
I’m not looking for opportunities to preach to people or convince them that being a Christian makes everything better. Some days I do not feel like that’s true. But asking people simple questions that show I genuinely care creates opportunities to connect our daily life with eternal themes.
Here are some things you could say as you start a conversation with someone you know:
Having meaningful conversations with people has a lot to do with making them feel safe talking with you. So, how do you achieve this?
Be willing to open up about your own life on an emotional level. Some of us find this harder than others, and that’s okay. You need to decide for yourself what feels appropriate to talk about.
Showing other people what it looks like to be vulnerable is crucial. It’s more likely to help them do the same than just telling them they can talk to you about anything.
When it comes to talking about our mental and emotional health we need to ask the Holy Spirit for an extra dose of wisdom.
Resist the temptation to offer solutions to whatever people tell us, even if those solutions sound biblical. Just because a person tells you about a struggle he or she is experiencing, does not mean that person is asking you how to fix it.
I have people I can rely on just to listen to me talk about whatever I’m going through. They’re willing to simply be present with me. This is so powerful. It reminds me I’m not alone, and that God puts people alongside me in every circumstance.
Ultimately our role is to point people toward the one who provides hope and healing. As 1 Peter 5:7 reminds us,
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”
The GodTools app is here to help you have conversations with the people you care about.
So here’s our invitation to you this month.
Start a conversation with someone about how COVID-19 has impacted him or her emotionally or mentally. If it moves on to talking about the gospel, that’s fantastic. If that does not happen right away, be patient.
You are creating safe space and becoming a safe person for someone.
Please let us know how your conversation goes by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you started your day today, did you expect to talk with someone about spiritual things or even about the gospel by the end of the day?
What if expecting God to work through you each day is actually an important part of seeing it happen?
Do you expect God to use you?
There’s a verse in the Bible that helps me focus my mind on what to expect from God.
“And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men’” (Matthew 4:19).
Jesus said that as I follow him, he will make me a fisher of men. Not, he might. He said this is going to happen. So when I do not see it happening in my life, I try to focus on following him more closely.
One way to do this is to ask God for opportunities to talk about the gospel or demonstrate his love with people who do not yet follow Jesus. You could even ask God for an opportunity today.
This past Saturday, I decided to pray expecting God to answer my prayer. As I drove away from my home I asked God to use me. Before I finished praying, I saw my new neighbor walking her dog and remembered it was her birthday.
God allowed me to look at my neighbor and see someone in need of his love. Before the day was up I found a way to show her love, which I believe will give me open doors to continue our conversations about the gospel.
So can you see ways Jesus is making you a fisher of men or women? Do you expect him to give you opportunities to share his love with someone today or tomorrow?
God is working in the lives of people you know. He’s preparing them for conversations and moments that will be significant in their spiritual journeys. So naturally, it makes sense that he wants to prepare you too.
As a person using GodTools, we think you share our desire to have more conversations about Jesus. You want to offer your friends, family members, and neighbors the chance to discover him for themselves.
If you want to learn to talk with someone about God, here are three ideas for getting started:
There is only one gospel, but the way people connect with the message of Jesus will vary depending on various factors. A person’s family background, experience of religion, and present circumstances will influence how they respond to what you’re saying.
That’s why it’s so important to focus on asking questions and listening well before you start explaining what you believe. Seek to understand before you ask to be understood.
GodTools provides you with multiple ways to essentially share one message. The tools were designed to connect with people in different cultural contexts who might connect with different aspects of the gospel message.
Take some time to think about a person you want to have a spiritual conversation with. Look through the various tools. Then ask God to help you decide which of them you could use to guide your conversation. But remember, God is willing and able to help guide your conversation using any of these tools, or none of them.
The idea of practicing a conversation sounds unnatural. But if you want to be able to focus on the person you’re talking with rather than the content you are showing them, it can help to look through the screens with a Christian friend.
Knowing what it feels like to swipe through screens as you discuss the content will build your confidence for the conversation you hope to have in the future.
Teach Me To Share is a tool designed by people with lots of experience of starting spiritual conversations and answering questions about faith. Use this tool to train yourself in helping others make their own decision to follow Christ.
We recommend you grab a coffee and take 10-15 minutes to look through this tool. Then you’ll feel more ready for the conversations you want to have.
That’s it for this issue. If you have questions or feedback for us, or stories of your experiences using GodTools, please email email@example.com
We are here to help you learn to talk about God with anyone.