Three people to trust in a spiritual conversation

As fireworks burst in the sky, the loud bangs echoed in my chest. My heart pounded, not because of the distant explosions but because the spiritual conversation I had wanted to have was finally happening.

I felt pressure — pressure to say the right thing or ask the right question. Pressure to defend myself or explain the gospel a certain way. Those holiday fireworks echoed in my mind as I tried to piece together just the right formula to get this person to believe. But then a thought popped into my head.

“What if I just listen instead? What will happen if instead of planning my next move, I just really listen and let the conversation happen naturally?”

The result was a supernatural conversation. We talked more deeply than we ever had before. I got to be vulnerable, and the person I was talking with got to ask their real questions.

I learned in that conversation that listening requires trust in three people — trust in the Holy Spirit, trust in the other person and trust in myself. I realized that when I had felt pressure, it was due to a lack of trust. Let me explain.

1. Trust the Holy Spirit

The first person I needed to trust was the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his disciples, “… the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said” (Luke 12:12, NLT). He didn’t want them to stick to a script. Jesus wanted the disciples to speak from the heart and trust that the Holy Spirit would help them in the moment.

For me, as I let go of the pressure I put on myself, the Holy Spirit was faithful to give me words to say from my heart.

2. Trust the other person

I have to confess that I’ve become pessimistic about spiritual conversations. I assume that other people don’t care about my faith or what I think about God. But my assumption was proven wrong that night.

I was surprised by how interested the other person was when I stopped trying to say the right thing and started speaking from my heart. I realized that I wasn’t trusting that the person cared about me and would want to hear my perspective.

3. Trust yourself

Lastly, I needed to trust myself. I thought I needed a formula or an outline to articulate what I believed. Sure, those things are helpful. But sometimes I can lean on them too much. I needed to take off the training wheels and articulate my faith for myself.

It turns out that I could do it on my own. It helped to have those tools in the back of my mind to help me. But for that particular conversation it was much more impactful to share from the heart.

I hope as you engage in spiritual conversations this month you will trust the Holy Spirit, the other person and yourself. Trust that God is guiding you and that the other person really does want to hear your perspective.

The pressure’s off!

How to talk about God with people who are uninterested

Apatheist. This is a new word to me. I discovered it while searching Google for something else.

"An apatheist is someone who is not interested in accepting or rejecting any claims that gods exist or do not exist. The existence of a god or gods is not rejected, but may be designated irrelevant."

I know atheists. I know lots of agnostics. But I’ve yet to meet someone who described themself as an apatheist.

However, I have met people who apparently had no desire to have a spiritual conversation with me.

It’s easier to start conversations with people when you know they are already interested. I can remember telling myself that I should leave the uninterested people to God. I figured I’d wait till they showed some interest before talking with them about the gospel.

But why would I write off trying to have a spiritual conversation with someone I care about, just because I’m not certain they’re interested yet?

The answer probably lies more in my own anxiety than in concern for their preferences.

What if you were labeled “uninterested”?

I was curious about God long before I became a Christian. I wondered whether my life had a meaning or purpose.

Few people knew this about me. Sometimes I kept it hidden. Other times my curiosity died down for a while.

But there were also times when I struggled to find someone I felt safe talking with about my questions.

I’m sure some of my Christian friends presumed I was uninterested. Many of my lifestyle choices reinforced that idea.

The truth is, I spent years excluding myself from conversations about faith because I thought I would never be able to live the way Christians did.

But then some people took a step of faith with me. They asked questions that made me feel like my opinions and experiences, however confused, had value. That was how I began considering what God thought about me. What if he believed I was worth his time and attention?

So how do you have the conversation you’re praying for when a person shows no interest in God or even spiritual things? This is the question we’re going to try to answer.

No two conversations are the same. So if anyone gives you a simple formula, it should come with a warning label “DO NOT ACCEPT SIMPLE FORMULAS!”

But here are some questions I suggest asking yourself that I hope will help.


6 questions to ask before talking with someone you think is uninterested

1. Has the person actually said they’re not interested in God?

I can think of several people in my own life who I presume belong in the “not interested in spiritual things” category. But I’ve yet to actually ask them if that’s true.

It’s natural to piece together an opinion of someone’s opinion about God or faith from your various interactions.

But some people have just never been asked what they believe about God. In some cases that’s because the Christians they know presumed this conversation was off-limits.

2. What is the person uninterested in?

Words and phrases often mean different things to different people. Especially loaded language, such as “God” or “spiritual.” So if you ask someone what they think about these things, confirm they understand your terms and intentions correctly. You might be asking an open question about someone’s spirituality, but they may presume you mean a particular brand of religion.

If someone tells you they are not interested in God, you could say, “Can you explain why that’s the case? Is it the idea of God even existing, or something else?”

The person might be afraid that you’re gearing up to try and convert them. Or they may fear talking about spiritual things might lead to friction in your relationship. Be sensitive to your friend’s apprehensions. Reassure him or her that you genuinely want to understand this part of their life.

3. Why is the person uninterested?

Let’s imagine the other person has explained why they’re not interested in talking about God. If you’re confident the other person feels safe with you, this does not mean a door is closing

Try paraphrasing what you think you’ve heard your friend say. This achieves two things: 

  1. It confirms you’ve understood the other person properly. 
  2. Your sensitive curiosity demonstrates you value him or her.

Once you know you’ve understood your friend’s perspective, try asking, “Have you always felt this way?”

If the answer is yes, try discussing what it takes for people to change the way they see the world.

If the answer is no, try exploring how their current perspective formed. Was it new information, particular experiences, or something else that most influenced the way they see things now?

Either way, begin by asking a question — rather than making a statement — resisting the temptation to take control of the conversation.

4. What’s going on in the person’s life right now?

Apathy often grows or declines with circumstances. What someone thinks about spiritual things is connected to what’s happening, or has happened, in their actual life.

Mental and emotional health, for example, influence the way someone feels about Christianity’s claim to offer the only real and lasting source of hope. That’s a bold promise. The risk of disappointment becomes a barrier to many people.

So ask your friend questions about his or her whole life, not just spiritual beliefs. It’s all connected.

5. Have you demonstrated how deeply you are interested in them?

As Christians, we believe God is interested in every person because he created each individual. But many people fear this is not true. They feel overlooked, misunderstood, or even forgotten by God.

The way we talk with people is an opportunity to demonstrate how God feels about them.

Some people fear Christians only want to talk about what they believe. Sometimes that’s true. That’s why GodTools stresses the value of being curious about the people we talk with.

 What’s the ABCs of GodTools? Always. Be. Curious.

It’s not a trade-off, or a bait and switch. You’re not luring someone into a certain conversation by asking them a few questions. If you ever feel that’s what you’re doing, hit pause.

Give yourself permission not to have “the right conversation.”

Be curious – then be more curious – then a bit more.

Do you care about the person enough to listen to them, or just enough until they’ll listen to you? 

6. Can you focus on building a relationship before starting the conversation?

If you’ve been praying for an opportunity to talk about God with someone, you might feel under pressure. Each time you meet, you might find yourself wondering if this is the opportunity you’ve asked for.

GodTools exists to help you feel ready for every conversation about Jesus. But sometimes this means having the wisdom to know when to let go of having a specific conversation.

It’s important not to view building a relationship and initiating a spiritual conversation as mutually exclusive. See them as parts of the same thing; loving the other person the way Jesus calls you to.

 You know you’re investing in your relationship with someone when: 

  • You refer to things the person told you in a previous conversation. It’s a way of saying you care about them.
  • You’re happy to talk about mutual interests or look to find some.
  • You invite the other person to enjoy a shared experience or say yes to their invitation.

None of these examples guarantee a conversation about Jesus. But they all help create a relationship where talking about deeper things feels more natural.

When you’re sharing your life with someone, being curious about the way they see the world — including God — makes sense.

God will provide opportunities to talk about him as you love someone the way he does..

The power of being interested in people before they’re interested in God

I think we’re surrounded by people who, for whatever reason, think they are not worth God’s time. It’s painful to feel like God is uninterested in you. When people feel this way, they tend to become apathetic towards God as well.

Other people just think about spiritual things in a different way. Maybe they use different language or have a perspective that’s far removed from the way the Christians they know think about things.

They are not interested in having the conversation they think their Christian friends want to have. But if the conversation is going to include questions like “Where does hope come from?”, “Can people really change?”, or ”Does life have a greater meaning?”, they’re all in.

A few people paid attention to me when others had deemed me “spiritually uninterested.” They gave me space to work out what I thought and, more importantly, what my real questions and issues were.

In doing so, they brought me closer to God.

3 secrets to feeling ready for a spiritual conversation

A great conversation is a mysterious thing. It can feel like stars aligning. Two or more people share a desire to dig deeper into ideas they care about, or to take a friendship to a new level. Meaningful conversations feel like the right people, place and moment converging in a way you could never plan.

But at the same time, those of us who want to have conversations about Jesus cannot always wait for “the perfect moment.” So how can we be ready for the conversations we pray will come?

In this issue of “Conversations” we’ll share three secrets to preparing well for discussions you hope to have about Jesus.

1. Think about having a conversation, not giving a presentation

Great conversations often break down when we put ourselves under unnecessary pressure about how it’s supposed to go. Perhaps we have a really specific picture in our minds of what sharing the gospel looks like. We imagine explaining a set of truths in a certain order with a particular prayer of commitment at the end.

Using a gospel presentation tool can be a really helpful way of walking someone through the message of Jesus. The GodTools app offers some great options. But having a great conversation about the gospel can look very different depending on who’s involved.

By telling yourself there’s only one successful outcome to your conversation you risk damaging the trust you’re building. We’re often better served by just listening well and talking about our relationship with Jesus as it relates to everyday life.

2. Use the tools you know

Your personal story of becoming a follower of Jesus and what that means on a daily basis is one of the most powerful things you bring to any conversation. How well do you know your own story?

It’s worth taking some time to think about your story because God wants to use it. Your experiences can help the people in your life understand what it really means to experience the love, hope and purpose only God provides.

You can connect your own story with things your friend enjoys talking about: family, relationships, career or common struggles we face in life.

Do you want to learn more about how to share your personal experiences of the gospel?

Find our lesson “The power of your God story” in the GodTools app now.

3. Be flexible

Sometimes you’ll have a long uninterrupted conversation. Other times it may be five or ten minutes during a lunch break at work or at a social event. Feeling ready for any conversation involves being able to adapt to different people and situations.

Focus on understanding the person you’re talking with. And trust God to help you know how to talk about the gospel in a way that feels relevant to that person.

The GodTools app guides you before, during and after a gospel conversation. It includes tips about starting conversations, as well as explaining the gospel and helping someone respond to it.

GodTools Tip: Spend five minutes each day this week getting familiar with the content in our tools, including the Tips we’ve recently added. By the end of the week you’ll know which tool you feel most comfortable using in a conversation.

Tell us about your conversations

We love hearing about the conversations you’re having, whether you choose to use GodTools or not.

Please let us know what you’re learning as you talk about the gospel with the people in your life. Email