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Engaging in More Spiritual Conversations

Nov 12, 2007
Evangelism has moved in the last 20 years from being a monologue (one-sided conversation) to a dialog (two-way conversation.) There are people all around us who are receptive to spiritual discussions and open genuine spiritual guidance. George Barna sites, "That 62% of American adults consider themselves to be not merely religious, but deeply spiritual." This means that there is more than a 50-50 chance of getting into some type of spiritual conversation with people who travel in and out of your life. Learning to engage people in a meaningful, spiritual dialog is critical for a spiritual leader.

Here are four ideas for increasing the spiritual conversations in your life:

1) Make It a Priority

It is important for a leader to think strategically about their conversations throughout the week. If you don't plan it or make room for it, the likelihood is that it is not going to get done. I agree with Brian McLaren's statement, "We should count conversations rather than conversions, not because I don't believe in conversions, but because I don't think we'll get many conversions if we keep emphasizing them." The number of conversations you have is directly related to the number of conversions you will see happen over a year. In coaching church leaders we use the 3 by 5 rule. If leaders are going to be serious about connecting with people they need to uncover at least 5 new contacts a day, equaling about 35 a week, which will lead to 3 "sit-downs" for a meaningful conversation.

How many contacts does it take for you to get a meaningful sit-down with a person?

2) Pray for Opportunities

I remember praying one morning, "Lord, it has been a while time since I led someone to you. Open the doors and show me who I need to speak to today." As soon as I finished praying that prayer a man walked over to me and said, "Doesn't that book (my pocket Bible) get old after a while?" which I replied, "It gets better every time I read it. Would you like to read it?" He took the Bible and began reading it. This resulted in a number of great conversations that eventually led to him and his family to attend our church and embrace Jesus as Lord and Savior.

When is the last time you asked God to open new doors of opportunity for you?

3) Get out and into your community

All too often we are so isolated from the world in which you live. Look at your calendar and see what fills your week. I encourage church planters to think about tithing their time to community service and interaction. As a planter I put in 60 plus hours a week. This meant about six hours a week out in the community like playing in a noon basketball league on Tuesdays and Thursdays or coaching my children's baseball and football teams. My week could be filled with serving on various community committees within the school district or through the Chamber of Commerce. It could also involve attending community events or joining professional groups like Toastmasters International. I could easily fill up my six hours a week.

Opportunities abound when we get out into our communities. Jon Cawston, a church planter in Plainfield, IL., joined a local entrepreneurial networking group. After a couple of months of being in this group, he was wondering why he was there and was feeling out of place. Then a crisis took place within the group and he discovered that he instantly become "the chaplain" of the group which led to spiritual conversations.

Can you imagine all the spiritual conversations that could take place if your staff and leaders were encouraged to tithe their time to community service and interaction?

4) Establish routines and cultivate relationships

Beyond the tithe of your time in your community I encourage leaders to establish routines and patterns so that you build relational presence with business owners and servers. Think strategically about all your interactions and pray that you can be a redemptive influence within that social network. A couple of tell tale signs of this is, "Do people know your name?" or "Do you know peoples names?" Reggie McNeal loves to ask his servers, "I am going to pray for my meal and I always pray for my server. Is there anything I can pray for you specifically?" I can see this really working as you cultivate relationships and move them from the mundane to the spiritual.

What places do you frequent in your community?

Jesus, Paul and James used the analogy of the farmer when it comes to spiritual leaders patiently sowing, working and cultivating the work of the gospel. When it comes to engaging in spiritual conversations you need to have an attitude of a farmer, faithfully working and cultivating your community. The first two suggestions deal with the leader's attitude, the next two suggestions deal with putting leaders in a position for engagement.

I learned a simple lesson over twenty-five years ago from an old missionary who said these words to me, "Gary you can't serve God where you are not!" That statement helped me move away from dreaming about future ministry to engaging myself in the daily personal ministry right in front of me every day.
About the Author
Gary Rohrmayer has a unique focus in mentoring leaders within God's mission. He is a sought after personal coach for pastors, church planters and missional leaders. He specializes in the areas of spiritual formation, church multiplication and church health.
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