Somebody once remarked that when Jesus makes us fishers of men, the process looks more like fly-fishing than trawling! Whilst a trawler uses a vast net to corral huge numbers of fish, a fly fisherman looks to entice just one to bite by using a shiny lure. So how can we make sure that our everyday conversations contain plenty of such ‘bait’, which might lead to gospel conversations?
One obvious conversational hook is: “Did you have a good weekend?” because if the question is returned then you have an opportunity to talk about some aspect of church and faith.
Asking a friend if they’ve seen the latest film or Netflix series and if they have, what they thought of it, can also be a hook, whether the programme was good (or bad!) If the film contained a redemptive narrative, it’s an obvious bridge to the gospel. If the characters got away with wickedness, then Christians have a lot to say about justice, why it matters and what it tells us about God.
Celebrities can be profound and vacuous in equal measure! “What did you think about what she/he said last night?!” can bridge through from headlines to deeper things. Other conversational hooks can be:
- “What are your goals this year?”
- “What’s been the best/worst part of your week?”
- “Do you think you have changed much?”
- “Who has had the most influence in your life? Why?”
- “Did you grow up in a religious home?”
But not all baited hooks are questions. You can also use statements, leaving them dangling to see if anyone ‘bites’:
- “So many people seem to lack any purpose in life.”
- “It’s in situations like these that I find my faith so helpful.”
- “I found this book so frustrating.”
- “Something at church yesterday really perplexed me” is a hook loaded with intrigue and the potential of sharing a testimony of the reality of God’s work in your life.
The three key elements in baiting conversations are:
- Frequently hold out ‘baited hooks’, to invite, not force conversation.
- Be genuinely interested in people’s responses, experiences and views.
- Have a clearly thought-through Christian perspective, ready for when you are given the opportunity to share.
So pray: “Lord, help me to enticingly bait my conversations this week, and help me to be ready to speak winsomely for you when someone ‘bites’”.