The Christmas season is a special time of year when spiritual conversations with people in your life can happen naturally. Holiday gatherings create opportunities to talk with friends and family you do not see every day, like that cousin who lives out of town. And even close friends and relatives are likely to be more open to meaningful conversation during the holiday season.
But feelings of pressure, and dread of small talk, are not uncommon at this time of year. Having the conversation you’ve been praying for may take focus and some strategic thinking. So here are three tips to remember when starting spiritual conversations during the holidays.
1. Timing is not “everything,” but it’s very important
Have you been looking for a chance to talk with your family member or friend about faith? If so, a holiday meal or party might be a great time to chat. A sense of comfort can fill the room when people are gathered for a traditional meal. People mingle and laugh in a welcoming place.
At the same time, it’s important to think about whether you’re trying to start a conversation with the person at the right moment. For example, someone who is hosting or helping with the meal could feel busy. And if something doesn’t go right — what is that smoke coming from the kitchen?! — they might feel stress too.
So notice if they’re distracted or hurried. The way to show your care in that moment is likely through practical help. But keep your eyes open for a time when the person is able to relax and talk without needing to pay attention to something else.
Another thing to consider is where the friend or family member is on their faith journey. For example, if the person has shown open hostility toward spiritual topics, it might not be the right time to start that conversation with everyone around.
In that case, you could simply share your own story — about how God has worked in your life. Part of your story might relate to what the person is going through in their life and could help them move closer to God. “The power of your God story” lesson could help you think about how you would communicate your story.
2. Go deeper by asking good questions and listening well
If talking about something other than the weather feels challenging, that’s OK. One idea is to think about what God is currently teaching you or about a book you’re reading. It’s often easy to talk with others about what you personally find interesting. This can create a natural connection to something the other person finds interesting or has also been thinking about.
But perhaps a better approach is to pray and think beforehand about thoughtful questions you’d like to ask the person. Then look for chances to show care and get to know the person more by asking those questions.
Get some inspiration for good questions from the Openers tool.
Good questions will likely lead the two of you from a surface-level conversation to a deeper one. When that happens, continue to depend on the Holy Spirit to guide you with the appropriate questions to ask.
And having asked a question, seek to get to know the person more by truly listening to them. They might not want to talk about deeper topics, and while that’s disappointing it’s also OK. When you focus on listening well, you can let go of your expectations for the conversation.
Maintain a mindset of loving the person you’re talking to and wanting to bless them, rather than needing the conversation to go a certain way. The “How to love people by listening” lesson will give you more tips on how to be a good listener.
3. Think and pray about your next step with the person
After you talk with someone, take some time to think and pray. Writing down a prayer request can help you remember to pray and may bring to mind topics to ask them about later.
Here are two valuable questions to think through: How can you continue the conversation? And what other next step can you take with this person?
Point your friend or family member to a resource that helps answer their spiritual questions. That way they can continue discovering and learning on their own. Consider inviting them to a Bible study or church event. Allow God to lead you in taking the best next step for that person, and trust that He will work in their life through you.