The Sending 4: Conversations

Today, we’re talking about conversations. Conversation is one of the primary ways that we relate to others. To get us started, let’s look at a couple conversations that Jesus had with Nicodemus and the woman at the well.

These two stories in John 3-4, where Jesus has a conversation with Nicodemus, followed by a conversation with an unnamed woman at Jacob’s well, really go well together. There’s a …

  • A man who is named and a woman who is unnamed
  • A man who comes to Jesus and a woman whom Jesus approaches
  • A man who comes to Jesus at night and a woman who meets with Jesus during the day
  • A man whose status is high and a woman who is on the bottom side of
    everything (the fact that she was alone at the well during the day;
    other women went in groups during the cool of the day)
  • Both talk about water, Spirit, life, Jews. Both show Jesus’ capacity for penetrating insight
  • Both Nicodemus and the woman both want to engage him in spiritual conversation
  • Nicodemus fades into the night; we can’t tell where his story ends; her story ends with a type of confession

These two conversations show that Jesus knows people at the extremes; the implication is that he knows people in between as well. Whereas the woman at the well appears to make an immediate response to follow Jesus, Nicodemus’ journey was spread out over a longer period of time. Read John 7.50-52 and John 19.38-42.

In the burial scene, Nicodemus moves from the shadows and identifies himself with Jesus. Some people come to Jesus agonizingly slow, like Nicodemus, whereas for the woman at the well was more instantaneous.

We tend to compartmentalize life — secular vs. spiritual. In Hebrew culture, there were no words for secular/spiritual. It was just life — and God was part of people’s lives. Our conversations should reflect that.

It seems to me, evangelism isn’t a method as much as it is a relationship, and a relationship involves conversations. It’s about being who you are. If you are a follower of Jesus, and Jesus is the center of our lives, then he will also be part of our conversations.

The good news is that, just as each of us has a unique DNA make-up, so too we have different approaches to spiritual conversations (i.e. evangelism). These six approaches come from Bill Hybels and Mark Mittelberg’s, Becoming a Contagious Christian

  • Confrontational [Peter]
  • Intellectual [Paul]
  • Testimonial [Blind man, John 9]
  • Interpersonal [Matthew]
  • Invitational [Samaritan woman, john 4]
  • Service [Dorcas, Acts 9]

What do you have to know in order to have spiritual conversations?

"Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if you
are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it." (1
Peter 3.15)

You don’t have to be an expert on spiritual matters. You don’t have to know everything. You simply have to be on a spiritual journey of following Jesus. When questions come up that you don’t know how to respond to, as they often will, it’s an opportunity for you to learn and grow in an area that you’ve not considered very much, perhaps.

Is it necessary to talk about Jesus in every conversation?
No. Not every conversation has to be “spiritual.” If we’re living for God, and Jesus is truly a part of our lives, I believe that will be noticeable, and will sometimes lead to spiritual conversations. For example, Nicodemus came to Jesus because there was something about him that drew Nicodemus to him. The woman at the well, though she had never met Jesus, was drawn to him through their conversation.

O God, you have invited us to be in conversation with you since creation. And you reach out to the world you love so much, one person, one conversation, at a time. Please use us — our lives and our conversations — to spread your revolution in this world! Amen.

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