Talking about spirituality or religion outside of the church is often avoided, but there are quite a few people who do want to talk about spirituality, God and even Jesus.
According to research from McCrindle, more than half of Australians (55 per cent) talk about spirituality or religion, often or occasionally, when they gather with friends.
In September, City Bible Forum (CBF), which provides resources for Christian workers around Australia, is encouraging Christians to “dive deeper” and talk about their faith with friends, family and co-workers.
CBF wants to see 3000 spiritual conversations over the month around Australia, which works out to be five conversations per Christian.
This may not sound like a lot, but Russ Matthews, project manager for City Bible Forum, said it may be more challenging than people first realised.
“In a month, that can be pretty significant, especially in our era where we’re still coming out of that COVID era where we’re not necessarily around people nearly as much as we used to be,” he told Hope 103.2.
“It might even be really going through to evaluate how many people that I do know that I’d be able to talk to about God, so I think it helps us all to evaluate how many non-Christian contacts we have and how valuable that can be to us.”
“It’s encouraging other people to talk, but then also effectively listening to what they’re saying and hearing what their opinions are,” – Russ Matthews, City Bible Forum
What is a spiritual conversation?
Although the aim of these conversations is to progress towards talking about the Bible and Jesus, an initial conversation may not necessarily mention Jesus.
“A spiritual conversation would be anything where you’re getting somebody to talk beyond just kind of a regular day and day in and out,” Mr Matthews said.
“I think with evangelism (sharing the good news of Jesus), unfortunately, sometimes we think it’s all about us talking, (but) a conversation is a two-way street.
“And, so, it’s encouraging other people to talk, but then also effectively listening to what they’re saying and hearing what their opinions are.”
He said people should try to direct the conversation to God.
“Often, you’re talking about something that involves God, involves faith, involves a spiritual element, that is the beginning of that kind of spiritual conversation journey.”
“A spiritual conversation would be anything where you’re getting somebody to talk beyond just kind of a regular day and day in and out,” – Russ Matthews, City Bible Forum
Different types of evangelists
To help Christians start these conversations, City Bible Forum has created a quiz for people to find out which Bible character they are most like when talking about Jesus.
After completing the quiz, they will be given access to free resources to equip them to start these conversations.
“People just love (going to) Buzzfeed and that sort of thing to do quizzes to find out a little bit more about their personality,” Mr Matthews said.
“So, I think that’s one of the things that the quiz kind of gives you, it gives you an in, it gives you kind of a hook to consider different types of evangelists.”
The three different types include the hesitant, likened to the Apostle Paul’s associate Timothy; the busy, represented by Archippus from the church at Colossae; and the enthusiast, just like the Apostle Paul.
However, the goal of the quiz is not to become more like a type of evangelist, Mr Matthews said.
“It’s not necessarily that you have to strive to be an enthusiast; it’s really more that it’s just getting you out and doing the conversations where you’re at and with what skills you already have.”
“I think with evangelism, unfortunately, sometimes we think it’s all about us talking, (but) a conversation is a two-way street,” – Russ Matthews, City Bible Forum
Breaking the norm
Although the target for the month is 3000 spiritual conversations, it goes beyond that, Mr Matthews said.
“It’s really not about the numbers; I mean, if we hit 3000, great; if we don’t, OK, that’s fine, too; but if we exceed that, that’s great too,” he said.
“Really, the primary goal of this whole thing is to encourage people to consider engaging in an evangelistic process with those that are in their immediate vicinity.”
The three different types of evangelists also helps people to see that not everybody will go about it the same way, he said.
“Sometimes it’s breaking the norm of what people think an evangelist is and seeing the fact that we all can evangelise, even if we don’t think we have the gift of evangelism, that we still have a responsibility and an opportunity to evangelise.”