4 Tips for Sharing Your Faith with Another Guy
By Chris Bolinger, Crosswalk.com
After he rose from the dead, Jesus met with his closest followers, his disciples, on a mountain in Galilee. There, he gave the Great Commission, charging them to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).
The Great Commission applies to the followers of Jesus today, too. As modern-day disciples, we are called to make others into disciples.
Before someone can become a disciple, he first must enter into a personal, saving relationship with Jesus, explains Pastor Mark Dever in his book Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus. By accepting Christ’s free gift of grace, mercy, a relationship with God, and the promise of life eternal, a person steps onto the path of becoming a disciple.
Of course, people won’t put their faith in Jesus if they have not heard the gospel. As Paul writes:
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? (Romans 10:14, ESV)
You don’t need to be a professional preacher or a biblical scholar to share the Good News with another man. A good place to start is by sharing your faith story – the story of how and why you became a Christian. That is likely to spark some questions and may lead to a deeper conversation about spiritual matters.
What are some good practices for sharing your faith story with another guy? Here are four tips from some experienced disciple-makers.
1. Get to Know Him
Sharing a personal story with a total stranger rarely works well. It’s best to share it with someone you know who also knows you, such as a close friend or a family member.
If you’re like most men, then you have only a handful of close male friends. When a friend is not a Christian, then discussing your faith with him may feel awkward. Odds are that you’ve had plenty of opportunities in the past to talk about your faith, and you’ve passed on each one.
Having a spiritual conversation with a family member can seem even more intimidating. After all, he knows a lot of intimate details about you, including some of the “un-Christian” things you have done and said. Those things may have left some lasting scars.
Your family member or friend thinks that he knows you. But, from a spiritual standpoint, he really doesn’t, and you really don’t know him either.
Before you start having deep spiritual conversations with him, you need to get to know him . . . all over again. Start by praying for two things: that your love for him would be deepened and that your eyes would be opened to see him as God sees him.
Getting to know people at a deeper level isn’t restricted to your friends and family members. There are plenty of people in your life whom you really don’t know that well. That includes the relative strangers you see nearly every day: your neighbors.
A March 2020 survey revealed that about one in six Americans did not know the name of a single neighbor, and about half of Americans could name only five or fewer neighbors. Only a tiny fraction of people know anything of significance about their neighbors, says Bob Adgate of Nav Neighbors, an initiative of Navigators.
The same can be true, he continues, with the people in your workplace, the guys with whom you play golf or disc golf, and the parents of the other kids on your child’s soccer team. You see them regularly, but you really don’t know them.
How do you get to know them? Mark Evans of Nav Neighbors offers a simple starting point.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Lorenzo Antonucc
2. Be an Available Listener
Deeper friendships, he says, start with presence, availability, and time. God is calling Evans to “live slowly,” which he says means “to move at a pace that allows me to pay attention, to notice, and to listen.”
When the pandemic began, Evans started to walk the streets of his neighborhood every day. His goal was to see slow and steady progress in interaction: from a hand wave to exchanging names to short conversations.
Evans was inspired by Nathan Foster of Renovaré, an organization that strives to help people become more like Jesus. “Foster calls it the practice of availability,” says Evans. “You start small, with the people who are near you. You may start with the people inside your house before you move outside.”
Your initial goal, says Evans, is simple. “Pay attention, and notice,” he says. “Be someone who listens more than he talks. Don’t start with what you want to share. Start where other people are.”
As you listen actively, he adds, people will begin to share their stories. “You'll begin to learn some of what motivates them. What they're excited about. What they're fearful of.”
Doug Pollock, the author of God Space: Where Spiritual Conversations Happen Naturally, agrees with Evans on the importance of listening.
Pollock once was at the Denver airport rental car counter when he spotted a young man who couldn’t rent a car. Pollock offered to give him a lift to Denver, and the young man agreed.
Along the way, Pollock said that he was getting ready to speak at a large church, and he asked the young man for help with his talk. Pollock posed this question: If a Christian wanted to have a “God conversation” with you, what should that Christian not do?
It seemed that the young man had been waiting his entire life to answer that question. He told Pollock that Christians don’t listen; they just want to preach. Their failure to listen makes them come across as rude and disrespectful.
“‘If you're not gonna listen to me, I'm not gonna listen to you,’” the young man said. “If it’s your Jesus that’s made you this way, then I don't want anything to do with him.”
Pollock says that the conversation in the car jump-started his “recovery as an evangelist.” Prior to that, he really didn’t listen to non-Christians with an intent to understand; he listened merely to ready his next reply.
Consistent listening helps to build trust, and trust is essential for spiritual conversations.
3. Listen for Spiritual Cues
At some point, a conversation is going to turn to a deeper issue. A man will talk about what Pollock describes as a “soul thirst,” such as a deep desire to accomplish something significant, a strong urge to be loved and accepted for who you are, or a need to be forgiven for a shameful act.
Is this a sign that the man wants to have a spiritual conversation? Pollock encourages you to listen not only to the man but also to the Holy Spirit.
“God has been talking to this man – drawing him – for a long time,” says Pollock. “Ask God if it’s time for you to enter the man’s story and, if so, how to do that.”
If you get a “green light” from God, then get permission from the man.
“Before I ask a question, I ask for permission to ask it,” says Pollock. “It may go this way: ‘Hey, do you mind if I ask you a question? It's more personal in nature. But as I've been listening to you, here's what I've heard you say . . .’ I’ll then frame my question using something he said.”
By asking for permission, you demonstrate respect to him. “He can always say that he doesn’t want to go there,” says Pollock. “But that happens very rarely. When you show real curiosity about something he’s said, that demonstrates that you really have been listening to him. Most men have never been listened to very well. And so, when someone actually does it, it's like high octane.”
4. Keep the Rally Going
During a spiritual conversation, you may start to tell your faith story. How much should you share?
Pollock uses a sport analogy. Imagine that you are introducing someone to pickleball, table tennis, or tennis. It’s no fun if you keep hitting the ball over the net and it never comes back. “If the ball isn't coming back,” says Pollock, “you might be trying to go too fast.”
Your goal is to get a “rally” going and then keep it going. If you start doing all the talking, then you might not be engaging well with the man. Pollock suggests asking him for feedback and then respecting that feedback the next time you talk to him.
When you get a good “rally” going, you may be tempted to keep it going indefinitely. Pollock recommends against that.
“You need to realize that there's a time to stop,” he says. “Tell your friend how much you enjoyed the conversation and that you’re looking forward to having another sometime. Leave him hungering for more.”
When the time is right, God will give you, or someone else, the opportunity for more.
Photo Credit: ©Toa Heftiba/Unsplash
Chris Bolinger is the author of three men’s devotionals – 52 Weeks of Strength for Men, Daily Strength for Men, and Fuerzas para Cada Día para el Hombre – and the co-host of the Empowered Manhood podcast. He splits his time between northeast Ohio and southwest Florida. Against the advice of medical professionals, he remains a die-hard fan of Cleveland pro sports teams. Find him at mensdevotionals.com.