In this series we shall look at how to share the gospel in the streets. The question for today is: How to start the conversation in a good way? Maybe you have already asked yourself this question.
It is obviously not the most natural thing for everyone to just engage a conversation with a stranger. So you will need to get used to a measure of discomfort when you doing this. With our teams, something that has helped is to have something to give people, like coffee and tea, to conduct surveys, or to find creative ideas like the question box (video here) to have more “natural” starting points of contact. However these ideas are just tools, and the desired end is to get a conversation about God going.
I have found that being straightforward is the best. People will not feel tricked if you state from the beginning what your intentions are. So this is how I usually start a conversation:
Hello, do you speak English? (I live in Norway) My name is Paul, I come from France and I am a Christian. I love to speak with people about God and to hear what they believe, or if you don’t believe at all, or hate Christians (in a joking way). So, do you believe in God?
At this point, maybe 80-85% of the people explain what they believe (or don’t believe), and we can get the conversation started from there. The other 15-20% say they are not interested, or busy, etc.
Of course I do not always start in that way. Recently, on the plane on the way to France, I was working on my laptop and starting speaking with the man next to me:
“Hello, can I ask you a question? My name is Paul, and I am writing about clues pointing to the existence of God. Would you like to hear?” The man was open and we had a good conversation. So the possibilities are unlimited, and you can also ask God to guide you in how to start.
Here are some practical tips that I have found to be useful when in the streets trying to engage people.
- Smile and be friendly.
- Be straightforward.
- Present yourself very shortly.
- Relax. (Not always so easy, but people will relax when you are)
- Use humor.
- Ask God to fill your heart with love.
- Just go for it.
That last tip is the make or break point. Many times I feel an impulse from God, but the longer I wait to act upon it, the less likely it is that I will act at all. So make sure to go for it and be obedient!
That’s about it for today, in Part 2, we will learn to present the gospel starting on common ground with atheists. Stay tuned!