Conversation 201

To read part one of this blog post, click here.

You know where I often find myself feeling a little awkward while conversing with others? In church, when I introduce myself to visitors. I think a big reason for that is that there’s usually only about 30 seconds to initiate and complete a conversation before the service begins or continues. But, even if it’s hard, this is something I want to work at. Just as God has so warmly and graciously welcomed me into His family, I long for others to receive a similar welcome from me. Here are a few questions I tend to ask. Do you have any others to add to the list?    

  • How long have you been coming? (I’ve found this is much better than asking, “Is this your first visit?”)
  • Where do you live?
  • Are you a stay-at-home mom? Do you work outside the home? (Be careful not to ask, “Are you a stay-at-home mom, or do you work?” I used to ask this, but stay-at-home moms almost never stop working!)
  • How do you fill your days? (This question is basically asking them what their job is, but it’s phrased in such a way that it’s general enough to include others like retirees and students.)
  • When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing?
  • What are you looking for in a church?   

Most of all, let them know that you’re so glad they’re visiting, and be sure you know their names before you leave the conversation (more on that tomorrow). 

You probably already know this, but just as a reminder, try to ask open-ended questions, rather than questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” A couple other helpful tips:

  • If you know you’re about to see someone with whom conversation doesn’t come easily, you might want to think of a question ahead of time to ask them. Spend a couple of minutes thinking about the last time you were with them. What do you know about their lives? What are they currently involved in? What have they asked for prayer for recently? 
  • Be prepared with your own answers to standard questions. Do you know how you will respond when people ask what you do? Will you respond differently if a Christian or a non-Christian asks you this question, or not? Are you prepared to share your testimony? Do you have a short and a long version?

Although it might sound like it, I’m not promoting “canned” conversation. But I am encouraging you to be proactive about connecting with others. Conversation is often an easy, pleasurable experience—with those you connect with—but when conversation doesn’t come naturally, are you prepared to work at it? 

In closing, here are a few questions you can ask when you’re not in a hurry. I’d love to learn from you, too. What’s your favorite question to ask people you meet? What’s one of the best questions you’ve found to initiate a spiritual conversation? 

  • What’s your spiritual background?
  • How has Jesus changed your life?
  • How did you two meet?
  • (My personal favorite): How would you describe yourself in five words?
  • What do you like the best—and the least—about living in this area?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What’s been your greatest disappointment in life? Your greatest joy? 
  • Who’s your best friend?
  • What do you live for?

About the Author

Paula Marsteller

Paula Marsteller

Paula Marsteller is a gifted communicator with a tenacious commitment to Scripture coupled with a compassionate, loving voice. God has captured Paula’s heart, and she is passionate about sharing life-changing, gospel truths through the lens of her everyday, ordinary life … read more …

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