Christmas is a busy time of year. It’s also a perfect time to strike up spiritual conversations with people you come in contact with. How do you start? What can you say to open the door to meaningful engagement?
She sat next to me on the flight. Most of the time she had her headphones on or was watching movies. I wanted to start a conversation, but needed to watch for the appropriate time. Just before the flight landed, I got my chance. Beginning, I asked some basic questions. “Where are you going? Are you visiting family?” I also shared the same about myself.
It was then easy to ask, “Will you be celebrating Christmas while you are there?” Our spiritual conversation began.
“No,” she replied. Earlier I’d found out she was from a Muslim majority country.
“Are your family Muslims?” I asked. Listening and asking more questions, I learned more about her family and faith. This opened the door for me to also share with her about my life.
Christmas provides many, many opportunities. I’ve been challenging myself to have at least one spiritual conversation with someone each day. As I’ve been doing this, I’ve noticed some things.
5 Tips When Attempting Spiritual Conversations in the Advent Season
1. Use open-ended questions and listen well.
After initial introductions, mention the topic of Christmas. If you are in a shopping area, this is easy. “Are you here doing Christmas shopping?” Or you might comment on the decorations you see and how pretty they are. Next, ask an open question.
“What is your favorite part of the Christmas season?”
“What is the most meaningful thing about this time of year for you?”
“Have you ever had a spiritual encounter or experience during this Season?” might be another good question. If they say yes, be sure to ask a follow-up question, “What was that like?“
After they have shared and you’ve listened well, reflect back what you heard. Then share something from your perspective. You might share your testimony (with a Christmas twist on it).
2. Boldly prepare to engage in conversation.
Do you struggle with timidity? Prepare yourself ahead of time.
I am an introvert and often find it difficult to talk with strangers. If I rehearse what I will say to get started in my mind ahead of time, it helps a lot. As I walk up to the store, or sit down in the restaurant, in my mind, I run through the question I am going to ask the clerk or person next to me in the cue.
By preparing in your mind (this only takes a minute), you are much more likely to actually begin the conversation.
Maybe you are going to ask them if they know the story of Jesus’ birth. Practice ahead of time. Tell it to your neighbor or family member to prepare yourself. You will find it comes out of your mouth more naturally when you’ve practiced saying it at least once beforehand.
3. Have a mindset of generosity.
It takes a generous spirit to give up your precious time to talk to others. The busier we are, the more this is true. Are you willing to pause and notice those around you this Season? Can you slow down, just a little bit, to open the door for a conversation about the reason for the Season?
Christmas is a time where we like to buy gifts. Let’s also give the gift of time to those we meet who don’t yet know Christ.
4. Contextualize your conversation depending on who you are speaking with.
Not everyone you meet is in the same place spiritually. If you are talking with someone from a non-Christian background they likely know little about Jesus. In some ways, this is easier. Share the story of Jesus’ amazing birth and what it means to you in a non-threatening and simple way.
Others, who come from a nominal background will need a different approach completely. Build bridges by getting them to share their experiences with Christmas as a child. Even let them share negative experiences. These too can be a bridge. Most everyone will agree that Christmas has become very commercial, more than it should be. “What would an ideal Christmas look like for you?” may be a good question to ask.
5. Make failure your friend.
One of the things I’ve liked most about doing the 25 Day Advent Challenge this year is how much I’ve been learning. Because we live abroad, I’d never shared my faith frequently with people from my own culture before. I had some good spiritual conversations and some that didn’t go so well. Instead of being discouraged by those, I’ve been learning. “Hmmm. Next time, I want to try asking this.” Or, “It would have been better if I would have then shared that.” Learning from our failures transforms them into success.
There are still a few more days between now and Christmas. You might be too late to take the full 25 Day Advent Challenge this year, but it’s not too late to have some great spiritual conversations with people! I’d love to hear how it goes in the comments below or on the DMMs Facebook group or page.
Interested to learn more about how to get started in Disciple Making Movements? On January 15th, registration will open again for my online course. We’ll cover lots more about how to do abundant gospel sowing, create your prayer plan and to start your first group.