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Spiritual Conversations

I came across an article from Barna* on “spiritual conversations” with non-Christians. It immediately reminded me of the Inspire skills of spiritual conversation book and online course, and how needed those are in daily life and mission!

A few key things that stood out to me from the article were:

  • Non-Christians are generally more open to faith conversations than we assume
  • Listening is key!
  • Hypocrisy is a major obstacle. At the very least, people want to know that you believe what you’re telling them they should believe!


BOOK: The Skills of Spiritual Conversation, Philip Meadows, Inspire Movement Publishing, 2023

At the heart of discipleship is a conversational relationship with Jesus in which we practice his presence, grow in his likeness, listen for his voice, and follow his lead. We develop this relationship through spiritual conversation with one another; as a matter of friendship, in mentoring relationships, or a small group context. The approach taken here focuses on how the skills of spiritual conversation are developed in small groups, and overflow to all our relationships, into every corner of daily life, including our witness to unbelievers. This book will be an essential resource for all those seeking to deepen their conversation in fellowship bands of three or four, and house fellowships of all ages. It will be especially useful as a handbook of wisdom for leaders, mentors and disciple-makers in all contexts of ministry.

Read more/preview/purchase from the Inspire Book Store

LEARNING COMMUNITY: Skills of Spiritual Conversation, Online Learning Community, Inspire School of Discipleship

This 6-week course explores the role of spiritual conversation, particularly in small groups, for growth in whole-life discipleship and everyday mission. You will learn how to follow Jesus and keep in step with his Spirit, through a number of skills presented in online teaching resources and discussion groups, and practical experience in fellowship band.

  • Session 1 – Orientation and Introduction 
  • Session 2 – Giving an Account 
  • Session 3 – Double Listening
  • Session 4 – Asking Good Questions
  • Session 5 – Sharing Spiritual Wisdom
  • Session 6 – Committing to Follow 

BARNA RESEARCH: 3 Things to Consider During Spiritual Conversations with Non-Christians, Barna, Dec 13, 2023*

(1) Spiritual Openness Often Represents Common Ground

[Do] not assume they will be met with combative or even contradictory opinions. For instance, alongside a general warmth toward God and Jesus, spiritually open non-Christians have a perhaps unexpected reverence for scripture. They tend to agree the Christian Bible is both divinely inspired and completely accurate.

Additionally, Christians should expect that non-Christians take matters of faith seriously and personally. While some of their views may seem blurry or befuddling to someone currently practicing Christianity, these beliefs are revealing of non-Christians’ varied backstories—many of which were connected to the Church at some point.

(2) Give-and-Take Required for Good Faith Conversations to Occur

People of no faith shared with Barna about previous spiritual conversations with Christians, and we compared their accounts of those conversations by whether it left them with a positive or negative impression.

Through this lens, we learn that positive spiritual conversations are more likely when Christians prioritize listening, not just speaking. 

People of no faith feel more positive about spiritual conversations with Christians when the Christian shares their spiritual backstory and asks about their conversation partner’s own spiritual backstory. As you can see, the former is still more common than the latter, but both are important in having better cross-faith interactions.

(3) “Actions Speak Louder than Words” Rings Especially True When Sharing Faith

According to Barna’s Spiritually Open data, the public tend to have a positive opinion of Jesus and his teachings. The traits people associate with Jesus often align with the things they say they hope to find in their spirituality.

Yet, if non-Christians are looking for things that Jesus provides, have a positive opinion of Jesus and are hearing about Jesus from Christians … then why don’t more people identify as Christians? Our research suggests that the most likely reason for this disconnect is the hypocrisy non-Christians witness among Christians.

Put another way, the missing ingredient in many approaches to sharing faith may actually have nothing to do with what Christians are saying, but how Christians are living. Sadly, people of no faith or of other faiths say that the hypocrisy of religious people is the number one reason they doubt their faith. Perhaps even more telling is the fact that 22 percent of Christians say the same.

*Click HERE to read the full article

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