The BIG IDEA
Starting a conversation is the first “sound barrier” to break when seeking to have an impact for Christ in a person’s life.
It can be hard to start a conversation with someone.
Trust God for the grace to step beyond ourselves and talk with another person about their life.
Why THIS MATTERS
It’s been said that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a first step. When it comes to having an impact for Christ in another person’s life, one of those first steps is starting a conversation with someone. For some of us, that can be really scary. The only way to get outside ourselves is to look to Christ. He left the comfort of heaven because he cared enough to step into our lives.
I want my students to…
- KNOW: Starting a conversation is an expression of God’s love for someone and a key step in having an impact for Christ in someone’s life. Jesus initiates with others through me when I trust him to fill me with his Spirit.
- EXPERIENCE: Excitement at the thought of starting and having good conversations with people God brings into our lives.
- DO: By taking steps of faith in the power of the Spirit to start conversations with those God brings into our lives.
Note to leaders: Because of our use of technology and the way many people relate to others, it can be hard for students to have a conversation in person with someone they don’t know very well. Sometimes it is even hard for students to talk with their friends. These four lessons in the Sound Barriers series will give students a chance to develop and practice their skills which will hopefully lead them into talking to others about their faith in Jesus Christ.
There are four sound barriers that can make it hard to talk with people about Jesus:
- BREAKING THE ICE – starting conversations with people
- GOING DEEPER – talking about spiritual things with people
- SHARING GOOD NEWS – bringing up Jesus in conversations
- DECISION TIME – helping someone say “Yes” to Jesus
Today we are talking about how to begin a conversation with someone.
The idea box is a place where you can find some creative ideas for leading this study. You might find videos, activities, or great illustrations that really bring the main point home. The ideas come from small group leader like you, so if you have an idea that isn’t in there, click below to share it with the community!
*WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Ivan has been in Jon’s math class for the past couple days. Ivan is new. Jon noticed that Ivan has been sitting in class but not getting to know anyone. Jon would like to reach out to Ivan, but he feels awkward about that because the only thing he knows about him is his name. What would you say to Jon to coach him in starting a conversation with Ivan?
WHAT DOES GOD SAY ABOUT THIS?
*Many people in the Bible, especially Jesus, were good at starting conversations with others. Let’s look at two examples and talk about what they did and how this could help someone like Ivan.
*1. Who started the conversations?
- What did they do?
- How did the Ethiopian and the rich man respond?
Philip started the conversation with the Ethiopian, and the rich man asked Jesus a question. The three main things that took place in these conversations were listening, asking a question, and giving a response. One responded in a positive way when hearing about Jesus, and the other one decided to turn back and go his own way.
2. What can we learn from these conversations that would help us talk to people we meet?
In these passages, both Philip and Jesus asked questions, listened, and tried to relate to the other person’s needs. For example, in the Acts 8 passage, Philip left his comfort zone and approached an important government official to ask him a question. Then he took the time to sit with him and explain the good news about Jesus. In Mark 10:17–25 Jesus, after listening and responding, “looked at the rich man and loved him.” Listening to people and caring about them makes it possible to have a meaningful conversation.
3. God often brings people into our lives for us to talk to. He wants to use us to show them the love of Christ and how to have a relationship with him. For some of us talking to people we don’t know well is super easy. For others of us it is a scary and uncomfortable thing to do. How would you describe yourself when it comes to talking with others, especially those you don’t know well?
Try to let everyone share at least a word or two about themselves.
4. What are some barriers we can face when we try to start a conversation with someone like Ivan was trying to do with Jon? Responses could include shyness, worry over what others will think of us, feeling stupid, or not knowing what to say next. Also sometimes we don’t want to leave the comfort of being with our close friends to reach out and meet someone new. Any of these can cause us to not want to start a conversation with someone.
5. From the Acts 8 passage, which of the barriers we just discussed do you think Philip might have faced?
- How do you think he got through these barriers?
He might have felt scared about approaching an important man whom he did not know. He probably thought the man was smarter and more educated than he was. He could have felt silly running after the man in the chariot, or he could have felt the difference in their cultures was too great to deal with. He got past these fears because he clearly knew through the angel that God wanted him to do this. He put aside his own fears to be used by God in this man’s life.
HOW DO WE APPLY THIS TO OUR LIVES?
6. At the top of the page there is a picture of a roller coaster. How can starting conversations with people you don’t know feel like getting on a roller coaster?
It takes courage to start. It makes you a little nervous. You don’t know exactly where it will go. At the end you are usually glad you tried—but sometimes you’re not. In both situations you hope you won’t throw up.
7. What are some things you could say to start a conversation with someone you don’t know well or just met?
Allow the group to discuss. Being friendly and asking questions are always a good place to start. Sports, fashion, music, movies, and school are things most people are willing to talk about.
*After coming up with some ideas of your own, you might want to check out our “Conversation Cheat Sheet” on five things you could say to start a conversation with someone you don’t know on the back of the student guide.
8. For practice, play the beach ball game (if you don’t have a ball use a wadded up piece of paper). Sit in a circle and have one person hold the ball and say “Hi” to someone across the circle and ask a question. Then throw the ball to that person who has to answer your question and ask you one before throwing the ball back to you. For example, “Hey I noticed your shirt, are you a basketball fan?” (Throw the ball to the other person) “Yes mostly college ball, my favorite team is____. What about you, what’s your team?” (Throw the ball back). Continue the conversation for a minute before throwing the ball to someone else. Let everyone have a chance to practice if there is time.
As a leader you may have to start the game to give them the idea. Choose a talkative student to start the game with. Encourage the students to focus on continuing the conversation and not just starting the conversation. Try to avoid answering with one word answers like fine or cool.
9. How could friendly conversations eventually lead to talking about your faith?
When someone sees that you are friendly and care about them, it is usually easy to talk about many aspects of life including faith. As you ask questions and show an interest in people they become comfortable in sharing what they think. At some point you may be able to ask a question about what they believe or share something about your own life. Paying attention to their answers and showing respect can lead to even more discussion.
10. Read Acts 1:8. How can the Holy Spirit help you take the first step in starting a conversation with someone?
Allow the group to discuss. The Holy Spirit gives us power when we talk to people and he helps us see that people really are lost without Jesus. He will give us power to care about people the way God does, he will help us know what to say to start a conversation, and he will give us courage and boldness when we need it.
11. Your assignment for this lesson is to get into a conversation with someone. This can be a person you have never talked to or someone you know but have not spent much time talking with. Just be friendly and take the time to listen to what they have to say. Next week we will talk about what happened and learn more about how to turn a casual conversation into one about faith.
Have the students share who they plan to talk to. It could be someone they see right now as they get up and leave the study or maybe a person sitting next to them tomorrow on their way to school. Close the time by praying for these people and asking God to give each person in the study courage and boldness to get started.
CONVERSATION CHEAT SHEET
It can be hard to know how to break through these four sound barriers when you’re talking to people. Below, we have some ideas for how you can move through them so that you can have better spiritual conversations. Use these, come up with your own, or brainstorm other ideas with a friend. Just keep the conversations moving toward Christ.
STARTING A CONVERSATION
(Ideas for going from no conversation to a conversation)
- Hi, I’m_____are you new here? I don’t think I’ve seen you around.
- Did you see the game/Super Bowl/Olympics/March Madness/World Series/etc last night? Who did you want to win?
- What kind of music are you into?
- Do you want to sit with us at lunch? I noticed you have a new schedule.
- Hey, I saw your t-shirt. Are you a ______ fan?
(Ideas for going from a conversation into a spiritual conversation)
- Is your family religious? Do you believe the same way they do?
- Do you ever think about God or want to know more about Him?
- Do you go to church (or temple or mosque) anywhere?
- If you could ask God one question, what would you ask?
- Have you heard of Cru? It’s a group of students who get together and talk about how God relates to their lives. Would you be interested in checking it out sometime?
BRINGING UP JESUS
(Ideas for going from a spiritual conversation into a conversation about Jesus and the Gospel)
- From what you know about Jesus, who do you think he was?
- Using a scale from 1–10, how sure are you that you will go to heaven when you die?
- Can I show you a few things that have helped me have a relationship with God?
- Jesus has made a big impact on my life. Can I tell you about it?
- In Cru I’ve been learning about how to have a relationship with God. Can I tell you what I’ve learned?
If someone wants to receive Christ with you, you could lead them through a prayer like this…
“Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive you as my Savior and Lord. thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.”
THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN HAVING CONVERSATIONS
Take the first step
Talk about the other person, show an interest and be encouraging
Listen carefully, care about them as a person and what they have to say
Ask open ended questions (not yes/no)
Breaking through these sound barriers is awkward. That is why we call them “barriers”. Don’t worry about having all the right words, just push through the awkwardness and start the conversation.
Our review cards are an excellent way to review your past lessons with your students before each study. Not every lesson has one yet but if we have them, you can find them on the PRINT page. Check them out and use them each week to help your students grab hold of the truths in these studies.
What ideas do you have that could improve this study? Are there creative things you do to bring this topic home to your students? Please share with the community clicking the FEEDBACK button or leaving a comment below.