How to bridge any conversation to the gospel

by George Robinson, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Monday, April 9, 2018 | 15 days old

One of the most prevalent reasons that people who have been trained to share their faith fail to do so is that they are not quite sure how to bridge everyday conversations toward the gospel. In my previous post I addressed how you can share your testimony as a bridge to the gospel. Here I want to help you see how every conversation is an opportunity to present the gospel.

Most conversations center on something good or bad, or on some need or desire. Those four subjects (good, bad, need, desire) connect our story to God’s great redemptive story, as told in the Bible. When you train yourself to recognize those elements in every conversation, you can do as Paul exhorts and,“Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time.” (Colossians 4:5)

Because this world is broken and marred by sin, many conversations will highlight some aspect of that brokenness, providing you with the opportunity to speak hope into the circumstance. I do this by listening intently and empathetically and then either asking, “What do you think went wrong with the world?” or stating, “This is not how things were meant to be.”

The question provides an opportunity for the person to share their worldview as it relates to the “bad” in the world (philosophers call this “the problem of evil”), giving you more insight on how to present them with the hope of the gospel. The statement is how I typically respond to some injustice or circumstance that is beyond our control.

For example, when I speak with someone who has experienced the loss of a loved one or another type of personal suffering, a declaration that life was not designed to include such bad things yields a potent opportunity to offer the hope of the gospel as a light in the midst of their darkness.

If a person I’m speaking with has experienced some joy or happiness, I listen enthusiastically and wait for an opportunity to tie that experience to the goodness of God. I do this by either asking, “Can you imagine life being any better right now?” or stating, “We were made to experience lasting joy.”

The question provides an opportunity for the person to share their worldview as it relates to the origin and nature of goodness, giving you more insight into how you might speak of the greatest good known to man. As Paul describes it, “He did not even spare his own Son but offered him up for us all. How will he not also with him grant us everything?” (Romans 8:32, CSB) The statement gives me the chance to tie their temporal happiness to the enduring joy noted by James, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

The storyline of redemption documented in the Bible provides such on-ramps to a gospel conversation. This story is timeless and transculturally relevant, answering at least four universal worldview questions:

  1. How did it all begin? We tell the story of creation.
  2. What went wrong with the world? We tell the story of the fall.
  3. Is there any hope? We tell the story of the rescue.
  4. What does the future hold? We tell the story of the restoration of all things.

So the next time you are in a conversation with someone who is far from God, listen! Listen for the good and bad, for expressed needs and desires. And then present the gospel to shine on that person’s present circumstance by helping them to see their story in light of God’s great story – one that centers upon the person and work of Jesus.

Be ready to make the most of the opportunity by asking the right questions or making a profound and penetrating statement, both of which will allow you to bridge any conversation to the gospel.

*You can learn more about this approach to gospel conversations at www.viewthestory.com, which is a resource of SpreadTruth Ministries.

EDITOR’S NOTE: George Robinson is a professor of missions and evangelism at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary who is an adopted child of the Father, and a flawed, but forgiven husband and dad. He is a disciple-maker, missionary, elder and author who loves hunting, riding his Harley, and cheering on the University of Georgia Bulldogs.