I needed help.
No level of encouragement was going to overcome the fear and taboo they sensed about bringing Jesus into normal conversation. What they wanted was a wider range of examples, and practical tips on how to prepare. In short, this small group of non confrontational personalities had the heart to share Jesus with their friends, but couldn’t quite grasp how to sincerely talk about their faith without feeling like a total dweeb.
As I searched for additional resources, I came across a book called “Coffee Shop Conversations; Making the Most of Spiritual Small Talk” by Dale and Jonalyn Fincher. This book blew all of my expectations out of the water. It gives great pragmatics on priority topics when sharing your faith, what to say and what to avoid. It also provided a wealth of information on other religions and beliefs (even ideas like the Law of Attraction), how to study the Bible, and countless examples of conversations with people of a variety of backgrounds.
I highly recommend you and your students read this whole book, but I particularly like what the Finchers share on what to avoid in conversations. First, they say to avoid the phrase “Just take it by faith”. Often times when Christians say that, it sounds we are choosing not to use the brain God gave us. Saying “That’s the way I was raised” can sound like you’re just blindly following what was fed to you and is another example that shuts people’s ears. Additionally, they say to be sure to avoid showing any fear, hatred or disgust toward others and they give convicting examples of how easy it is to fail in these areas. They show how sometimes in trying to bring up the topic of sin it can sound like we are cops trying to shame them into believing, thus completely disconnecting the person from the love of Jesus.
Another great tip that is seen throughout the book is how to avoid what they call “the red herring”. Generally the red herring questions are things that distract us from focusing on the Gospel message. Often when brought up, the person is just looking for an argument, so the Finchers say things like, “For now, let’s set aside that question. Let’s talk about Jesus and see where that leads us.” Examples of red herrings are “Do you really believe the Jonah and the whale story?”, “Aren’t there a bunch of errors in the Bible?”, and “What about Evolution?”
All these questions can easily steer people away from the main message of Jesus. Other examples that do this are hypocrisy within the church, homosexual issues, and women’s role in the church. The Finchers do an excellent job of explaining and giving examples of how to focus on the love of Jesus even when these red herring questions arise. If you would like to purchase their book you can get it here.
Have you been listening to the challenges your students face in sharing their faith? How do you help your students understand how to naturally bring God up in conversation and deal with these red herring questions?