We all have people in our lives who are not Christian. Some of these people are neighbors or friends and others are close loved-ones. As important as our faith is to us, having spiritual conversations with people of no faith is often difficult, uncomfortable, scary, or maybe even considered completely off limits. These negative feelings are often the result of negative past experiences or feeling ill equipped for the conversations.  

With 84% of Americans being spiritually open, our opportunity as Christians to have spiritual conversations is tremendous. However, how we have those conversations is more important than ever. Here are some tips and insights from a Barna study to consider as you embrace opportunities to engage with people of no faith in spiritual conversations:

  1. Listen.  When people of no faith cited what they would appreciate most in spiritual conversations with people of faith, being listened to without judgment scored the highest.  They also cited their desire of not being forced to come to any conclusion in the conversation and being allowed to come to their own conclusions. The people of no faith are really looking for a conversation partner who listens more than they talk.
  2. Relationship.  Of high importance to the person of no faith is that a person of faith would care about them as a person, is interested in them, and understands them. The person of faith would ask questions and is curious and engaged. All these important factors point to the emphasis of the relationship. We must invest in relationships first before we will have the privilege of having spiritual conversations with people.
  3. Vulnerability.  The person of no faith desires the Christian to be honest about their own doubts in their spiritual walk. They would also appreciate hearing about the Christian’s story and spiritual struggles when asked. The person of faith would even be aware of their own inconsistencies in their own spiritual perspectives and open to sharing about them.  A person of no faith appreciates the vulnerability of a person of faith and admits to not having their spiritual life all figured out.

In today’s postmodern culture, people are inundated with facts and data. Most often, they are not looking for yet more information. This is often true for spiritual conversations, too. People of no faith are not looking to engage in debates; they are more likely looking for a listening ear.  Therefore, Christians equipped with conversational skills who are first willing to invest in relationships will have a far greater chance of connecting with people of no faith and engaging in meaningful spiritual conversations.