4/4/16 Carlos about 30
I was recently asked how I start Gospel conversations, so I thought I'd write about it. Believe it or not, I am an introvert, and I use this to my advantage. Yesterday, for example, I was on a routine grocery errand and wanted to use it as an opportunity for outreach. On my way into the grocery store I looked into the coffee/snack area to see if anyone might look like they have time to talk. A couple sat talking quietly in a back corner. How could I approach and talk to them without being intrusive or obnoxious?
Some Christians try to engage in small talk with the hope that they might turn the conversation in a spiritual direction. Personally, I find this deceitful. It becomes painfully obvious when the natural tangents of conversations lead away from the spiritual and the Christian tries to subtly steer it back in a spiritual direction. Wouldn't it be better to just ask permission to talk about spiritual things up front to begin with?
That's what I did with this couple at the coffee shop. I deliberately walked up to them at their table with a warm smile, politely introduced myself as a member of a local church and asked for their permission to ask an interesting question - "What do you think happens after we die?" If they didn't want to talk about it I was prepared to politely wish them well and be on my way. As it turned out, Karla, the young man's wife, invited me to talk with Carlos, her husband, while she went back to work.
Carlos welcomed the opportunity. He described how he had given his life to Christ 5 years ago while attending church with a former girlfriend, but stopped attending church when they broke up and is now married to Karla who is an atheist. They have agreed not to talk about religion, and he doesn't go to church himself, so he has had no one to talk with about his beliefs. He has also had many doubts creeping in as Karla has been causing him to question the Bible and his faith. We had a long and meaningful discussion for which he was extremely grateful.
This did not happen because I am an extrovert and have the "gift of gab", because I most definitely do not. In fact, I read recently one description of an introvert is someone who hates small talk, because they see it as a barrier to more in-depth conversations. They know when to stop talking and start listening. No, this conversation happened because I prayerfully and deliberately asked for permission up front and proved to be a good listener. It also happened because I have had a lot of practice, and have learned to ask good questions. Are you an introvert? Take heart - God can use you more than you know!