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Learn About Them and Their Religion
(Conversational Evangelism: First Type of Conversation)
Bible study on evangelism, conversational evangelism.

There are four different types of conversations we have with people when talking to them about God and His church.

The first type of conversation we should have with people is to learn about them and their religion.

We Must Get To Know Them First
As we get to know people, we learn the things we need to know so we can lead them to Christ.

In our society, it's essential for us to get to know people before trying to convert them to Christ.

By getting to know them first, it shows them we genuinely care about them, and we're not motivated by pride or an ulterior motive. It's true, in bygone days people attended tent meetings without a personal invitation from a friend, and responded to the gospel. But those days are gone, and we are working with different people. We are commanded to conduct ourselves with wisdom toward unbelievers, with gracious speech that's seasoned with salt (Col. 4:5-6). We must approach people with the gospel in the most effective manner God authorizes, in order to win souls (cf. 1 Cor. 9:19-23).

We Gain Credibility
When we let people get to know us, we gain credibility by letting them see the light in our lives. The result is that people glorify God -- some even glorify Him by obeying the gospel (Matt. 5:14-16).

It's reported that 95% of people converted to Christ, in our day and age, are attracted to the truth after witnessing a Christian's moral and religious life. This stresses the fact that we have to let people get to know us, so they see the effectiveness of the gospel and the power of God that works in people who believe (1 Th. 2:13).

We Learn About Their Needs
As we get to know people, we learn about their spiritual needs, rather than assuming what they need.

Before Paul converted twelve men in Ephesus, he had to learn whether they lacked anything spiritually. So he asked two important questions whereby he learned they hadn't been baptized into Christ. He taught them the truth about John's baptism and Christ's baptism, and converted them to Christ (Acts 19:1-5).

Like Paul, we must get to know people to learn about their spiritual needs. After we get to know them, we may have the opportunity to teach them the truth, and convert them to Christ.

What Do We Need To Learn About People?
Paul learned about people in Athens, reasoning with them, understanding their religion and culture, quoting from their own poets to prove his point about God (Acts 17:16-17, 22-23, 28).

We too need to learn about the people with whom we interact, so we have the knowledge we need to reason with them in an effective manner. We have to be good listeners and get to know them, or we will fail (Jas. 1:19-20).

We need to learn about the religious error people have been taught, as we get to know them. Priscilla and Aquila listened to Apollos and learned what was lacking in his life; then they taught him the truth regarding baptism (Acts 18:24-26). We also need to listen to people and learn about religious errors that exists in their lives, so we can teach them the truth of the gospel.

It's helpful to know if there are any religious inconsistencies in our friends' lives. If they believe one thing and do something different, we can showing them the inconsistencies, and possibly shed light on greater spiritual problems. We need to be like Paul who corrected Peter, when he committed the sin of hypocrisy, by pointing out the inconsistency between his actions and his faith (Gal. 2:14-16).

It's essential to learn the words and phrases people use to communicate thoughts. So much of the time, we are not understood by people because we've not taken time to get to know them, and communicate in a way they understand. Paul shows us the impact this can have upon people when he spoke to the Jews in Hebrew, their native language (Acts 21:39 - 22:2). He got their attention, immediately had a degree of respect, and effectively communicated his thoughts.

It's helpful to learn what religious teaching they've been exposed to, so we can relate it to New Testament truth. Paul did this when making his defense before Agrippa. He said, "King Agrippa, do you believe the Prophets? I know that you do" (Acts 26:27). Paul knew Agrippa believed the prophets; therefore, he tried to persuade him based on what the prophets proclaimed.

It's helpful to know peoples' prejudices and stumbling blocks before we try to convince them to turn to Christ. Everyone who comes to Christ must deny himself and take up his cross, so it's helpful to know what a person will deal with if he decides to become a Christian (Matt. 16:24-26). These are the things Satan will use against them the most, and the things we must prepare our friends to face.

Lastly, it's helpful to know what has kept them from studying God's word and obeying the gospel in the past. It may be their upbringing and their ancestors, as was the case with Paul (Gal. 1:13-14). They may not be interested in studying the Bible. They may have been turned off by religion or a particular church. They may have a debilitating illness or disability. They may enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.

Be A Good Neighbor
If we are good neighbors like Jesus commands, we'll be interested in people and their souls. We'll want to get to know them, and understand them well enough to talk about God and his church in a meaningful way.

Like the good Samaritan, we'll have mercy and compassion for people, and do everything we can to help them, by reaching out with the gospel (Lk. 10:30-37).