Many believers want to build relational bridges with unbelievers but are a little stymied about getting started. We may find it hard to think of what to say to a new acquaintance or we may feel pressured to do things the right way.
A couple of things can help us. First, there are some simple steps for getting started that anyone can learn. My wife and I trained our children to use these skills when they were five years old. They are all parents now and continue to use them. Train church members in them, and they will be more comfortable and effective when greeting church guests.
Another helpful reminder is to not think about doing it “right.” Right and wrong carry moral overtones and can make us feel guilty or as if we’ve failed, both of which kill motivation. Instead, just tell yourself that you are learning to meet people well. Take it out of the pass-fail arena and develop a skill-learning mindset.
How To Form A Conversation
Everyone enjoys talking about him or herself; we all want to be the focus of someone’s interest to one degree or another. Not everyone is readily open or responsive, but we all build life around a FORM comprised of common life connections. You can get to know a lot about a person quickly if you FORM them with some simple open-ended questions.
Imagine that you are at your first Chamber of Commerce meeting. You are there to make both business and eternal connections, but you don’t yet know anyone. You decide to introduce yourself to the guy at the snack table. As you exchange names and handshakes, you start to FORM him. You ask him about one of these four areas and follow where the conversation leads:
- Family: Tell me about your family. How old are your kids? Are you married? How long? How’d you two meet? Where are your parents? Is that your hometown?
- Occupation: What do you do? How’d you get into that? How long have you done that? What’s your greatest job challenge? How does social media affect your industry? Where did you go to college? How did it prepare you for your job?
- Recreation: What’s your favorite sport? How’d you get into it? Who is your favorite team? When’s the last time that you saw them play? What sports do your kids play?
- Money: How do feel about the current stock market situation? What do you think we ought to do about national debt? What’s a good book you’ve read on finances? What do you think the economy holds for our kids when they’re adults? Where do you want to live when you retire? Tell me about it.
As you can see, these questions easily open the door to shared life connections. As you listen and question the other person, you make him feel important and interesting – and that can prompt him to like you, often the first step in the privilege of sharing life in Christ.
Written by: Rick Oglesby