If you were to have a conversation about Jesus with a non-Christian, what would you say and do?

When was the last time you had a conversation with someone about their relationship to Jesus Christ?

One of the hard pills most church leaders need to swallow and digest is the realization that preaching as we know it today was totally unknown until the fourth century. What we read about in the first ten chapters of Acts and see in the writings of the first few centuries depicts conversations more than preaching. What preaching was done was not done in churches but in the streets not behind a pulpit or in a church. If you’re relying on preaching to grow your church, much less advance your church, you are making a huge mistake. Preaching as we know it is usually to the choir and seldom is the actual catalyst for conversion.

So, if we want to tell the Story to the growing number of secular, non-Christians today perhaps we’d better learn how to communicate it in our daily conversations. Most of the conversions we read about in the New Testament were either presentations of the Story to a group of non-Christians or conversations between a Christian and non-Christian. Hence the opening question.

If you were to have a conversation about Jesus with a non-Christian, what would you say and do?

First, you would have to go to them; they aren’t coming to you anymore. If you feel reluctant to reach out by going out read Peter’s experience in Acts 10. If he can do it, you can.

Second, you would have to accept that person right where they are and listen intently to who they are and why. Study the story in John 4 of Jesus and the Woman at the Well.

Third, you would have to crawl into that person’s world and communicate in their language and symbol. Jesus understood his audience. He used metaphors people would understand like salt, leaven, bread, and shepherd.

Fourth, you would have to realize that one conversation does not a conversion make. Most often conversion follows a chain of conversations that develops a trusting relationship between the Christian and non-Christian.

Fifth, when the time came, you would have to have a loving, accepting group of people to invite the person to “come and see.” Is your church or small group an incubator of faith?

For an excellent book on this subject, see Radical Outreach by George Hunter (Abingdon)