An Evangelism Challenge
Many Christians expect that if they share the gospel with someone, they will probably need to give the right answer to all kinds of challenging questions on the spot. That idea of evangelism is a frightening picture for most of us–especially in our combative climate! If we think that is part of the mix, we tend to shy away rather than move into conversations about God.
Ironically, if we do pour out knowledge in response to a question, we are more likely to push people away or find ourselves in a debate. In debates there are “winners” and “losers,” but winning an argument rarely results in someone opening up to the message of Good News through Jesus.
There is a much better way. It doesn’t take a seminary-trained teacher or theologian. In fact, Christians who feel more “ordinary” may be in the best place of all to have an impact. Because most people don’t need someone giving them an immediate answer to a tough question raised in a conversation. Instead, they need someone who is engaging with them, who makes it safe to talk about life, God, and the Bible. Instead of telling . . . listening. Instead of teaching . . . facilitating.
How You Can Have Discussions that Draw People In
When you set the stage for ongoing discussions about life, God, and the Bible with people you know, their underlying questions can come to the surface. You can read and discuss sections of the Bible in context, and instead of a debate, you will find yourself in amazing discussions where your friends are making discoveries for themselves.
Here’s the basic idea:
1. Ask your friend(s) if they would meet regularly with you to talk about their spiritual questions.
Let them know that you appreciate their thoughts and ideas. Ask if they would be willing to meet regularly with you to discuss important questions of life and God, and if they would be willing to read and discuss the Bible in the process. Find a specific time and place and stick to it. (For example, each Tuesday, 7-8 p.m., by Zoom.) If you are starting ongoing discussions with more than one other person, ask a like-minded Christian to do this with you. Meet together outside of the group time and pray for your group members.
2. Set the stage with guidelines.
Whether it’s just two of you meeting regularly to discuss questions about life, God and the Bible or whether you start a group with more people, it’s important to start with guidelines that will keep your discussions both safe and vibrant.
Helpful guidelines would include the purpose of meeting, your role (that you will facilitate rather than give answers), that differences will not all be resolved in the group, and that you want to maintain confidentiality and respect in your discussions. When your group is discussing the Bible, three discussion tips are also essential: Stick to the topic under discussion, avoid tangents, and let the Bible speak for itself.
3. Use a resource that is the right fit.
Some people would respond well to icebreaker-like questions for ongoing conversations about life. It may be awhile before they are ready for much more than questions that help them open up about their own journey and beliefs.
Others might be open to watching short videos on questions about God and using a short set of questions to discuss those questions.
When your friends recognize that the Bible is worth reading and discussing, you can use a short, simple set of questions as a guide, or you can offer a full discussion guide that helps you go through a whole book or topic in the Bible at a deeper level.
The right tool will involve questions that help you to be part of a discussion rather than moving into teacher-mode. Instead of fill-in-the-blank answers, the questions will be open-ended, helping your group make observations, wrestle actively with ideas, express thoughts out loud, and consider what others are noticing. People will relate to the subject matter in a variety of ways rather than just passively listening.
With a resource that is the right fit, instead of trying to give all of the right answers and win an argument, you can help your friends explore and see answers for themselves.
Q Place Coaching Will equip you for this Doable Approach
Starting a group like this doesn’t take a seminary degree, but it does help to learn how from someone who has already been there. That’s why we equip Christians through Q Place Coaching–7 sessions, 1 ¼ hours each, conveniently by Zoom videoconference.
People who have gone through Q Place Coaching appreciate the time spent in learning how this approach works, how to prepare for starting this kind of group, how to invite people, how to run the first meeting, and what discussion guides to choose from that will be the right fit for the people in their group.
From Someone Who Has Been There . . .
Laura went through Q Place Coaching to learn how to start a group for spiritual seekers, and here are some of her observations:
- “It was helpful to go through the steps for starting a Q Place group in community with other people from all over the country and share our thoughts and challenges.”
- “The coaches modeled what we needed to do as facilitators in our own groups.”
- “Coaching helped with crafting invitations to start my group–I appreciated the various examples to invite someone. It also helped with identifying content and questions.”
- “When we started our group, people clearly did start thinking about what they believed, didn’t really believe or weren’t sure about. It spurred curiosity and people appreciated hearing what one another thought. I think we were quite successful in purposely addressing some very personal and sensitive topics in a kind and respectful way.”
- “Even though members of our group don’t believe like I do, they will often ask me for prayer. I let them know I am praying for them. And they all appreciate it. I know and trust God is at work!”
Since many activities are limited right now, it’s a great time to get prepared to start a group like this. Then, whether you start meeting with a few friends in your own Zoom calls or you wait until meeting in person is doable, you are ready to move ahead into amazing discussions about life, God, and the Bible with people you know.
The Q Place Team
P.S. You can register here for our upcoming Q Place Coaching Groups.
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