How to Start Conversations With Strangers Using Questions
You need to develop some social skills if you’re going to be able to go soul-winning or invite strangers to church. You can’t build a church on just your own social circle alone, so you’ll need to overcome the fears of talking to people. This includes talking to and taking interest in people you would not normally like. Drunks, low-lives, people older than you, people younger than you, people of opposing political beliefs, atheists, polytheists, arrogant, effeminate, dirty, smelly, obnoxious, and all sorts. At this point, the business of talking to a stranger for the cause of Christ is more than a learned skill, but it begins with realizing first what Christ did for sinners.
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Christ willingly left His glory in heaven and humbled Himself to become a servant to serve sinners like you and me. He did not wait in heaven for people to come to Him, but He took the first steps and sought men where they are. We cannot sit on our couches and wait for the lost to find their way to us. Jesus first went to seek and save those that are lost. And so if our Lord would do that for us, we can do that for others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.
Paul operated out of this mindset and mingled with social classes far different from his own:
22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might, by all means, save some.
1 Corinthians 9:22
So then we practice the discipline of becoming all things to all men on a social level that we might gain them with the gospel of Christ. The approach that I used above all others is asking questions of interest that might spark a conversation. If you not yet soul-winning, you might need to practice first the basics of just talking to people you don’t know. So where do you begin?
Look for conversation starters that you can comment or ask about.
You’re looking for something on their person that catches your attention and that you can use to start a conversation. This is the first thing that you will say.
“Man, that’s a nice bike, did you buy it new?”
“That’s an interesting pin, what’s it stand for?
“Are those golf gloves? Where do you play?”
(In the gym) “You look very fit, what kind of a diet are you on?”
(At the basketball court) “Hey, can you show me how you did that?”
(On the subway) “Hey what game are you playing (on the phone)”?
(In the park) “Hey, what breed of dog is that?”
These are some conversation starters I’ve used in the past. The principle is you look for something that you can take interest in and, with a smile, ask your question.
Take a genuine interest in what you’re asking about or at least fake it with a genuine smile.
You should be careful complimenting on someone’s of the opposite sex’s physical appearance, it will come across as flirting. After you’ve asked your question wait for a response. Their body language will tell you if they are open to talk or not, and if not just say have a nice day and exit. But if they respond positively, be ready to respond with more questions or jump into small talk.
(In the gym) “I’m trying to get lean like you. Are you concerned about how many carbs you intake?
(At the basketball court). “How often do you practice? Do you come here often?”
(On the subway) “That looks like a pretty fun game, are there other ones that you like?”
(In the park) “That’s a great dog, I was thinking of getting one, what breed would you recommend for small kids?”
People generally like to be helpful and talk about themselves. That is why asking questions allows them to do both things. After they’ve talked and have shown interests in the conversation, you are free to say other things. But if there is ever a pause in the conversation, you can always fill the gaps with small talk.
As an introvert, I have no use for small talk. I find talking to strangers to be a wearisome task. If you’re extroverted, you might find it enjoyable, but I’m writing this especially for folks who want to serve the Lord but yet deal with their introversion.
Small talk has universal topics that you can fill the gaps in with such as talking about the weather. If you want to avoid awkward silences, you use small talk to keep the social juices flowing. When there is a lull in the conversation just drop in a comment or question about the following:
I could write another page or two of details and things to say, but the easier thing to do is just go out and find some people and try talking to them. If you’re not in the habit of speaking to a stranger, try holding a short conversation with 10 strangers this week.
When you’re ready to move the conversation towards spiritual things, 90% of the time I ask the same question, “Do you have a sort of church background”? Tactic and technique have their place in soul-winning, but it comes second to just making a habit of talking to people. If you catch fish, you will cast dozens of times before you get a nibble, and then you will have several nibbles before you can reel something in. So if you’re not there yet, just work on being friendly with strangers and talking to them. Ask God to help you.
For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him…
2 Chronicles 16:9