How do I initiate Spiritual Conversations? Do you ever feel awkward as to how to talk to someone about spiritual matters and you don’t know what to say? Is there someone you want to talk to about spiritual matter but don’t know how to start? Or you are starting to disciple someone but you realize the discipleship can be more personal so it is more than just a one-on-one book reading club. I think by nature I am an introvert. I write this with them in mind. I’m also a preacher and I realize the danger that what can begin as a spiritual conversation suddenly transform into a one-way sermon with an audience of one. I found that what helps me in both those situations is the importance of initiating a spiritual conversation by asking the other person questions and then listening.
The following are questions that I found helpful to asks to initiate spiritual conversations. I must add that there are no magic bullets here. One must not forget the importance of Christian love that drives one’s spiritual conversation. If you ask these questions merely to go through them, well, you won’t get far. But asking question with Christian love does make an impact. Don’t forget the words of Jesus on the duty of Christian love: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
Here are the questions:
- How are you? This question shows that you care. It is open ended enough to go anywhere and what’s on their heart and what is important to them is going to be what they share. Someone might object, “But what if they don’t want to talk about anything spiritual at all?” I don’t want to be a legalist but sometimes its okay to talk about other matters of life that might not be overtly spiritual. At the same time when you regularly ask that question and they never talk about anything spiritual, well, that might be a spiritual heart issue of their priorities concerning the things of God isn’t it? But don’t just presume; this might be something worth a spiritual discussion about. And the discussion began with the icebreaker of “How are you?” So don’t waste your “How are you?” Ask it regularly and ask it in a way that expresses that you mean it beyond the formality. Sometimes people don’t care for a spiritual conversation with you until they know how much you do care for them.
- What have you been reading and learning from Scripture lately? This question is more direct concerning their time in God’s Word (or lack of it). Its important that one’s spiritual life and spiritual conversation isn’t just based upon imaginations and feelings. How one feels is important and how they are feeling concerning the things of God; but we must also ask how is someone’s relationship with God in particular with them hearing God’s Word. This question should be more than a guilt trip. Asks to be blessed yourself with what God’s Word says and also to be encouraged with God’s Word working in the person’s life! Also if they haven’t read anything, be ready also to share what you have been reading from Scripture and what has it been teaching you. Share with them new things you learned or things that you are reminded of. What if you yourself haven’t read the Bible lately? Spiritual conversations can be a double edged sword!
- What has God been teaching you lately? This question is more broader than the second one. Sometimes you might need to branch out beyond the second question especially when the discussion becomes merely academic in nature. You know, the discussion is much about theology and theory but not so much on the truth having bearing in one’s life. The direction of this question is more devotional and towards the need for application. I also like to ask this question when someone hasn’t read the Scriptures just to see what God is still doing and teaching the other person. Sometimes its encouraging to see what God’s providence or even what the Word of God stored in the person’s memory does in that person’s life. Ask this question regularly even if you are already asking the question of what they have been reading and learning from the Scriptures.
- What can I pray for you for? This question is meant to learn about their needs. Sometimes it can be more of learning what they feel they need but don’t really need especially if the person you are talking to might be caught up with worldliness or something else that is consuming them. Be discerning for that, for that might even become the topic of a spiritual conversation for their good. But don’t be a cynic; hear their needs especially those that might not be so apparent and pray to God for them as a brother or sister in Christ. Don’t dismiss the “small” stuff as insignificant. God cares. Don’t doubt God’s ability to work in the “big” matter, for God is sovereign. Don’t just ask for what you can pray for them for, pray with them right away! What better way to end a spiritual conversation about the things of God by going to God together in prayer!
- Has there been any questions you have been pondering concerning the Christian walk? This question is a great opportunity to teach and disciple. Sometimes they are going through doubt but wouldn’t share it if you haven’t asked this question. Other times they are wondering what does God’s Word has to say about a manner and here’s an opportunity to get their questions answered and the knowledge of God to strengthen them. Again remember spiritual conversation is a double edged sword. Sometimes you might not know yourself and have to pursue further study! Be transparent when you don’t know the answer; but study and follow up! Now you already have something ready for the next spiritual conversation!
- How is your walk with God? Or “How is your faith?” This is a question for accountability and should be done with pastoral concern. Sometimes you might need further follow up questions such as what are their specific struggles with sin or whether they are obedient to God concerning X, Y or Z. Don’t forget to share how God’s grace gives us hope for change and if you don’t know how, its great to dig deeper in understanding how the Gospel transforms us and the mechanics of biblical counseling.
This is in no way definitive. So readers, what other questions can you add to the list?