The Practical Art of Spiritual Conversation

The Practical Art of Spiritual Conversation

By James Harrison Shultz and David Rogers

The Practical Art of Spiritual Conversation is about the art of when, if, and how to engage in a spiritual conversation. The whens and the ifs inform the how. Christians can be so concerned with how to share the gospel that they often fail to consider where the person is spiritually and when, or even if, they should share the gospel. To be sure, the Scriptures are clear that followers of Christ must spread the good news. Yet there are times when sharing the gospel would be undeniably inappropriate. How, then, do gospel-centered, evangelistic Christians discern when to share Christ or when to stay silent? What determines when and if someone is even ready to hear the gospel? How does one meaningfully engage a person who has already accepted the gospel? Refined through tens of thousands of spiritual encounters, this book provides a helpful framework for discerning where a person is spiritually and how to encourage each person to take a step toward Christ regardless of where they may presently be in their faith journey. You will be equipped in the practical art of spiritual conversation so that you can meaningfully encourage every person to take a step toward Christ.

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“The vision of Christ Community Health Services is to glorify God and expand his kingdom among underserved and unreached people. Having a permission-based and sensitive approach to spiritual conversations is essential for those who wish to faithfully embody the mission of Jesus Christ in public spaces. Using the model described here, Christ Community Health Services has been able to impact the lives of tens of thousands of individuals for Jesus Christ through health care to the underserved. We are proud to pioneer this work and now see it expand beyond our organization.”

—Shantelle Leatherwood, CEO of Christ Community Health Services

“Our culture is drifting further away from a Judeo-Christian worldview. But how do you reach a drifting culture? One way is by equipping believers to be able to engage in spiritual conversations in ordinary and natural ways. Leveraging their experiences in a medical environment, Jim and David help us understand the practical elements in engaging people in natural conversations with the hope of meeting their greatest need—a relationship with Christ. I’m grateful for this practical resource for the church as we strive to reach a world in desperate need of Christ.”

—Ed Stetzer, Executive Director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center

“Shultz and Rogers have gathered thousands of hours of data and research about using spiritual conversations to foster maturity of love for Jesus and depth of Christian character. The Practical Art of Spiritual Conversation is the fruit of this research and the wisdom they have garnered from their own pilgrimages and ministries. The book’s central emphasis is unique, refreshing, and hopeful: how to use spiritual conversations to draw people into connection with Jesus or strengthen those connections with Jesus for believers by learning how and when to discuss key notions with people to help them on their way. The book is a treasure-trove of deep reflection and practical wisdom about assessing and facilitating spiritual health and training of others to do the same. This is an important book for our time.”

—J. P. Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Talbot School of Theology

“‘Evangelism with a heart and helping hands’ describes the perspective Jim Shultz and David Rogers reflect in their enjoyable book, The Practical Art of Spiritual Conversation. With personal examples and illustrations peppering the pages, the authors demonstrate that the gospel takes root best when the bearer of the good news understands and sympathizes with the worldview of the unevangelized person. Not since Paul Little’s How to Give Away Your Faith (1966) has such a helpful, practical book appeared, on how to witness for Christ naturally and without fear. Any Christian desiring to share their faith will be both instructed and inspired by this book.”

—Robin Dale Hadaway, author of A Survey of World Missions

“Jim Shultz and David Rogers have taken what they have learned from their years of service as spiritual advisors in healthcare settings to help Christ followers initiate important gospel conversations with unbelievers. They also offer assistance to help guide encounters with other believers in such a way as to help them take a deeper step in their walk with God. Encouraging readers to listen well and to sensitively seek opportunities for potential life-changing spiritual conversations, this wonderfully helpful and insightful book offers practical and thoughtful instruction for men and women at various stages of Christian maturity. I am delighted to recommend this highly applicable book.”

—David S. Dockery, President of International Alliance for Christian Education

“Here is a model for spiritual care that is respectful, appropriate in a provider/patient relationship, effective, and biblically faithful. Jim, David, and their team have refined years of experience into this practical and comprehensive guide on having meaningful spiritual conversations with patients. This is a book written, not out of theory, but out of experience over the course of hundreds of thousands of patient encounters. Every health professional who recognizes the importance of whole-person approaches to health and wants that for their patients should read this book.”

—Steve Noblett, Executive Director of Christian Community Health Fellowship

The Practical Art of Spiritual Conversation forces me to recall and rejoice in relation to God’s saving and sustaining ‘conversations’ with me through his listening to me (as in becoming human), walking with me, loving me—even through others. Shultz and Rogers further remind us of our call to live incarnationally and the privilege of practically ‘conversing’ with others as Jesus did with us—to his glory and toward helping others live in eternal ‘conversation’ with our Lord.”

—Frank Anderson, Director of the Center for Racial Reconciliation at Union University

“Having meaningful spiritual conversations that can move toward a presentation of the gospel is more of an art than a technique. It is often going on a journey with a friend, not a one-time event with a stranger. It begins by loving others well and listening to others well. This book will equip you to do both.”

—Daniel L. Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

“In The Practical Art of Spiritual Conversation, two highly respected Spiritual Health leaders offer practical solutions that have already impacted thousands and are destined to impact many, many more because of this book. It’s a biblically-based, practical approach to how we should talk to each other in an impactful way without imposing. My hats off to Jim and David on both a job well done with their book, but more importantly, a job well lived as practitioners of practically engaging people in spiritual conversations.”

—Dan Henley, Executive Director of the Church Developers Network

“David Rogers’s father, Adrian Rogers, was my mentor and spiritual hero. In the spirit of his father, who had a tremendous heart for sharing Jesus, he and Jim Shultz have written a book much needed in our day about how to have spiritual conversations with people who need Christ. When you read it you will be blessed, but when you put its principles to work you will be an eternal blessing to others.”

—James Merritt, host of Touching Lives

“If you are one of those people who love Jesus and know the call to tell others, this is for you! If you struggle with starting a conversation with friends, families, and strangers, this book is for you! Read an encouraging, simple method to let your light shine and gain the confidence to engage others about faith in Christ.”

—Hal Hoxie, President of the Butterfield Foundation

“Shultz and Rogers vividly remind us that our life, at its core, is relational. When people know they are loved by God, and when they love God and others, joy can happen even in tough circumstances. How to get there? Conversations—real listening to understand coupled with gentle, wise questions take us deeper into relationship with God and others. This book is a gift of simple, practical relational beauty.”

—Glenn Lucke, Founder and President of Docent Group

“The old saying ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care’ fits this book perfectly. Jim Shultz and David Rogers have penned a powerful strategy of truth in what it means to practice the art of having spiritual conversations. When we study the life of our Lord Jesus having gospel conversations, whether it be with an immoral woman at the well, or a moral man who came to him at night, we discover Jesus was the Master of this art of connection and conversation. He knew that compassion is ‘your pain in my heart,’ and he listened on their terms, and he took time to let them know he understood before he responded. Jim and David teach a bigger vision of the gospel and the book will show you how to offer the Savior before you offer a solution, because in reality, the solution is the Savior. That is the gospel art of a spiritual conversation.”

—Ken Whitten, Senior Pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church, Lutz, Florida

“I really appreciate the way Jim and David seek to encourage and equip regular Christians to engage in spiritual conversations with the people in their lives. A very helpful part of their approach is the way they spend some time on basic understandings of the gospel and discipleship. The way they go about explaining these basics of the Christian life will help every believer and will certainly help them in their spiritual conversations. I found the material and their suggestions to be very practical and understandable. They are also very encouraging and inspirational in their approach and in their call for all believers to help others move closer to Jesus.”

—David Van Kley, Senior Pastor of Bethel Reformed Church, Sheldon, Iowa