The BIG IDEA:
Overcoming the fear of awkwardness and bringing up God is the second “sound barrier” to break when seeking to have an impact for Christ in a person’s life.
It feels a lot easier and safer to talk about lighter topics like sports and the weather than it does to talk about God. Sometimes a less mature love for God and others makes it difficult to bring up spiritual topics with people who desperately need to know Jesus.
Trust God for the courage to bring up God when talking with people.
WHY THIS MATTERS:
It’s comfortable to focus our conversations on sports, the weather, and other “light” topics. However, the most important thing we can talk about with someone is a relationship with God. A key step to that end is bringing up spiritual matters. That requires trusting God, and it can help to have some practical tips as well.
I want my students to…
- KNOW: The importance of bringing up God in a conversation and some ideas about how to do that.
- EXPERIENCE: Excitement about bringing up God and conviction about the need to do so.
- DO: By taking Spirit-empowered steps of faith to bring up God in conversations.
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 bring up the subject of spiritual things with people you are having a conversation with.
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!
Jon started a conversation with Ivan by asking him where he’s from. Since then Jon has been asking him more questions, and they’ve been getting to know each other better. They even started eating lunch together after math class. Jon doesn’t know anything about Ivan’s spiritual background. He’d like to find out, but he doesn’t know how to bring it up. If you were Jon, how would you bring up spiritual matters with Ivan?
As you listen to responses from your group, emphasize the importance of bringing up spiritual matters in conversations. This is the gateway that helps people hear about Jesus. It starts the transition from everyday subjects like sports and the weather to the most important subject: Jesus and a person’s relationship with him.
Help your group see that this study continues in the same Bible passage as the last one, focusing on breaking an important “sound barrier” to influencing people for Christ: bringing up spiritual matters.
As we saw in last week’s lesson, Jesus is very good at starting conversations with people. We can learn a lot from the way he talked with a woman he met while getting water from a well. Our words might be very different but there are still insights and ideas we can use from reading the following passage.
Read John 4:7-15
1. How does the conversation begin in verse 7 between Jesus and the woman?
As he is sitting by the well he asks her a question. This is very similar to the way conversations were started in the passages we read in the first lesson about getting started. Remind them of Philip and the Ethiopian and Jesus and the rich man.
2. What happened next, and how did Jesus bring up the spiritual side of things while talking to the the woman in verses 9-10?
The woman talked about their differences in race and culture and then asked Jesus a question. Jesus started the spiritual part of the conversation by making a connection from something common they had been talking about (getting a drink of water) to something spiritual (the need for “living water” that he can provide). Notice how he showed respect to someone society said he shouldn’t even talk to, and that he listened and answered her question.
3. How did this conversation continue in verses 11-12? Was the woman interested in the spiritual part of the conversation? How much did she seem to understand of what Jesus said to her?
She asked more questions and brought up her own spiritual background when she referred to Jacob. She did not seem to fully grasp what Jesus was saying but was interested and wanted to talk more.
4. What did Jesus say in verses 13-14 to keep the topic focused?
He tried to use language she would understand and talked about regular water from the well and the supernatural “water” that he gives. He claimed that his water actually brings eternal life to people.
5. How does the woman respond in verse 15 to the claims Jesus made about himself?
She asked him for this “water,” which is a picture of the life that only Jesus offers. Even though she may not have understood all that he was talking about, she seemed to be very interested in what he had to say and their conversation continued.
Also she sensed that what he had to say was very special, not something she was used to hearing.
It is easy to let our conversations just be normal conversations, but as this story shows, many people in the world have a desire to have deeper conversations, even conversations about God. God made every person and put in them a desire to know Him. He has given us the opportunity to start those conversations to help people learn more about Him.
6. How is starting a spiritual conversation like giving a thirsty person a tall glass of water?
When someone has a spiritual interest but no way to get answers, a spiritual conversation about God could quench their thirst.
7. Why is it important to take these conversations deeper to talk about spiritual things?
As a believer in Jesus Christ, we have forgiveness of sin and can look forward to having a relationship with him and eternal life in heaven. For most people the only way they will know about these things is if we tell them. As the Acts 8 passage reminded us last week, we are to be his witnesses by the power of the Holy Spirit to all the earth.
8. Why is it sometimes difficult to start spiritual conversations with your friends?
Allow the group to discuss.
9. Try to brainstorm some of your own ideas that would help you bring up God with someone you know.
If you have a large group you might want to keep your group divided up to discuss ideas. You can also suggest categories for them to think about like the following:
- When you and friends are talking about relationships
- When Christmas or Easter or another holiday is coming up
- When someone asks you what you did over the weekend or break and you went to a Cru or church event
- When someone confides in you about a problem or difficulty they are facing or working through
If possible write down their ideas on a whiteboard, paper, or your phone. Take a picture of it and text it to them to help them remember to look for opportunities this week. Also, remember to reference the Conversation Sheet Sheet at on the back of the Student Notes or on the bottom of the page.
10. Last week we had an assignment to have a conversation with someone. How did it go?
Have as many people share as possible and try to remember (or take notes) about who they talked with so you can refer to them later.
11. Based on all the ideas we’ve discussed today, which question would work well for you to ask someone? When would be a good time to try out this question with them?
Challenge them to be specific about who and when to have this conversation. This might be a good time to remind them of the person they considered talking to in last week’s lesson. Close by praying for the students and for the people they want to talk with. Ask God to fill them with his Spirit and give them boldness to ask questions that would help them bring up spiritual matters.
Take a moment to pray as a group for God to help you start great conversations this week.
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.