I. How to open a conversation?

A. The direct approach.

This approach is when you directly ask people if they have every considered the claims of Christ. The direct approach is usually done when you are out street witnessing or going door to door. Philip approached the Ethiopian Eunuch this way (Acts 8:26-35). Paul also would simply walk up to people and begin speaking with them about Christ Acts 16:13-15).

The best way to open a conversation with the direct approach is to ask the person a question. "May I share the Gospel with you?" "Are you interested in spiritual things?" "Has anyone ever told you about God’s love?"

B. The casual approach.

Usually this approach is taken in situations when you are in casual friendly conversation with someone and the subject turns to a current event where you realize that you can share what the Bible declares. You intentionally change the direction of the conversation to spiritual issues. Jesus did this when He spoke to the woman at the well and changed the subject from physical thirst to her spiritual need (John 4:6-26). You can also intentionally bring up a topic that you know will naturally springboard you into a discussion of spiritual things.

In addition, when someone at work is discussing a topic, such as morality or evolution, use this as an opportunity to witness. If you have a book or recorded material that you could lend, offer it and ask if you could discuss the issue with this person later. This approach will usually give you several further opportunities to share with this one person.

C. When someone approaches you.

You won’t always have to open the conversation because sometimes people will approach you. This happened to Jesus several times. Nicodemus came to Jesus by night to inquire who He was (John 3:1-2). Even the Greeks came seeking Jesus at one of the feasts and said to Philip, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus" (John 12:21). In both these occurrences Jesus was ready to answer the questions and meet the need. Therefore, be ready for these opportunities because you never know when God will bring someone right to your doorstep.

D. The prayerful approach.

The best way to gain an opportunity to share your faith is prayer. James declares, "You do not have because you do not ask" (James 4:2). I want to assure you that if you will ask God for the boldness of His Spirit to speak up and the opportunities to share your faith, God will do it.

II. How do you deal with the argumentative?

A. Be ready.

You must be ready for hostile and argumentative people when you share your faith. Jesus prepared His disciples with the understanding that people would hate them and some would even become spiteful. "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me" (John 15:20-21). Jesus even told His disciples that they should count themselves blessed because they were in very good company if they were persecuted. "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matt. 5:11-12). Therefore, have you armed yourself with this mind that you will encounter people like this and are you ready to be reviled (1 Peter 4:1)? To be an effective and bold witness for Christ you must be ready for this to occur.

B. Don’t respond with anger or sarcasm.

Paul encouraged Timothy concerning how he should respond to those who would oppose him. "A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will" (2 Tim. 2:24-26). Therefore, you must respond gently and humbly to those who oppose you. You must answer their words with the wisdom of God’s Word lest they think they have overcome you with their words. However, you cannot respond with the same attitude that you have experienced (Prov. 26:4-5).

C. Know when to move on.

There are some people that are initially argumentative when you first speak with them, however are sincerely interested in talking with you concerning Christ. Others are completely hardened and resistive to any attempt by anyone to share Christ with them. You must discern the difference between these two types of people. If an individual is in anyway receptive to the Gospel you should see this person soften and become responsive as share concerning the love of Christ. If a person becomes increasingly agitated and sarcastic, leave a tract with them and politely excuse yourself.

III. How do you bring a person to a decision?

A. The importance of a decision.

After you have shared all the evidence concerning Christ, you must then ask a person for his or her verdict. Throughout Scripture you see that a decision is essential. Joshua asked the people to decide whom they would serve (Josh. 24:15). Elijah challenged people to make a decision. "Elijah came to all the people, and said, ‘How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him’ " (1 Kings 18:21). When Peter preached the Gospel he boldly told the people that they must repent and follow Christ (Acts 2:38). Paul also let the people know that when they rejected his preaching that they were making an eternal decision concerning their salvation. "Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, ‘It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles’ " (Acts 13:46).

B. How to do it.

After fully explaining the Gospel message to a person it is best to simply ask for a decision. "What’s hindering you from receiving Christ right now?" Or, "Is there any reason why you wouldn't pray with me right now to receive Christ?" By asking this question in this manner you are seeking specific information.

(1) Is there any specific reason why someone would not receive Christ?

(2) If there is a reason, what is it? This will enable you to then continue to speak directly to what is keeping the person from repentance.

(3) You are revealing that there is a need to pray and make a commitment right now.

Whenever people tell you that they are not ready at this time to make a commitment, it is best not to pressure or force a decision for Christ. This is their decision. Also, it is good to remind them that God’s hand is outstretched to them all day long and that they can come to Him in prayer at any time they change their mind (Rom. 10:21). Explain to them how to pray and what to say in prayer before you leave.