One of the great needs of the church today is for our members to be more evangelistic. We have more people living in our world today and yet fewer people becoming Christians and being involved in the life of the church. There are people all around us, we have neighbors, co-workers, family, and friends who are not Christians. Most of us talk with these people every day, yet when was the last time we had a spiritual conversation with them? Talking about God, Christ, the church, and the Bible can be challenging even awkward, especially if we are not in the habit of talking about our faith. So how can we take our daily conversations with our friends from everyday concerns to a spiritual discussion? The following is a helpful acronym that may be able to help us. When you are talking with someone think of the word H.O.P.E.S.
H – Home. Talk to your friends about their family, their children, grandchildren, and the places they have lived; share this information about yourself with them as well. Show them that you are genuinely concerned and interested in their family and their home.
O – Occupation. Talk to your friends about their job, what they do for a living, how their day at work went. If they have served in the military or went to college, ask them about their experience. Share your work and life experiences with them too.
P – Preferences. Talk to your friends about their likes and dislikes, foods they like or dis-like to eat, restaurants they may like to go to or want to avoid. Ask them about the type of car they like to drive, or their favorite holiday. Share your likes and dislikes with them also.
E – Entertainment. Talk to your friends about their hobbies, places they like to go on vacation, ask them to share their vacation memories, and talk about what they like to do when they have a day off. Share your common interests and things that you like to do for entertainment as well.
S – Story. Talk to your friends about their religious beliefs, talk about where they grew up going to church, or if they ever went to church. Ask them if they ever have become a Christian, ask them how they became a Christian or why they are not a Christian. Have them share their faith and religious story with you. And then as you listen to their story, ask them if you can share how you became a Christian, and why you believe what you believe. Point them to the scriptures and use this opportunity to set up a Bible study with them and invite them to come to worship services with you.
The next time you are talking to a friend, remember H.O.P.E.S. and may we each realize the urgency in bringing our lost friends to Christ.
“And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” (Dan. 12:3).
Mark T. Tonkery, Camden Avenue church of Christ, Parkersburg, WV