By Christine Twedt

The Art of Conversation, Part 1

When I met Kim, a bubbly extroverted Korean student, she was beginning her freshman year. Since she didn’t know anyone on campus, she decided to walk around and meet other residents on her dorm floor. But the students who responded to her knocks on their door were playing video games, watching movies, or listening to music with headphones on.

And when she attempted to start conversations by introducing herself and asking questions, everyone seemed more interested in their choice of technology. They answered her quickly, without looking up from their screens. Kim’s conclusion was that Americans seem very shy.

The Possibilities

I don’t think shy is the word we’re looking for here. The judgmental side of me wants to yell, “People! You are so rude! Look up from your movie and talk to this woman! She’s brand new to America, for Pete’s sake!”

And then, after I breathe and am slightly convicted by God, I realize that these people may not have the tools or the confidence to engage this woman in conversation. Since texting, tweeting, and Facebook have become primary modes of communication, we don’t necessarily have many opportunities to practice real conversation. And new conversations can take a great deal of energy that we may not feel motivated to put forth throughout our day.

What if these American students had had the confidence to ask Kim some questions? What if some of them are Christ-followers and would have taken a break from their game to communicate that she was an important person to meet?

When Christ-followers learn the art of good conversation, people will feel valued, which may give them a more positive perception of Christians. This can only help to increase the effectiveness of our ministry, allowing more people the opportunity to know Jesus.

They Want to Be Your Friend!

“Hi, my name is Christine. I don’t think I’ve met you yet.”

Recently I noticed myself getting too comfortable at church, always sitting with the same five to six friends. So I challenged myself to meet new people, shake their hands, look them in the eye, and perhaps learn something about them before the service started.

People have had a surprised but positive response to me. Often they make sure to catch me after church, saying, Thank you. It was good to meet you.

These were easy two-minute interactions that seemed to have a positive impact on people. Why don’t we do this more? Perhaps we think we’re bothering people, or we’re afraid they won’t like us. Or maybe we get nervous that we might be tongue-tied and look foolish.

One of the phrases I tell myself when I’m tempted to think these thoughts is, “They want to be your friend!” I know, it sounds arrogant. And there is a chance they may not want to be my friend, or even chat with me, but I may as well think positively rather than negatively. What do I have to lose?

Four years ago at a food drive put on by our church, I introduced myself to Melissa. She said, “I just moved from California and am checking out churches. I’m not sure what I think of Christianity, but I do know I need friends.”

Seriously, who says this? Someone whose life is being touched by the Holy Spirit. With that, Melissa and I became friends and had spiritual conversations over lunch for the next 18 months before I had the opportunity to baptize her. I’m glad I introduced myself.

Colossians 3:12 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved . . .” It’s a reminder of our deep value and security in Christ, regardless of how others respond to us. When we intentionally introduce ourselves to people, we live into this love of God and our confidence can grow.  

What wonderful friendships might we gain if we take the initiative to introduce ourselves to someone? How might our boldness bless someone else in big or small ways? And wouldn’t it be good to know that a seed of faith may very well have been planted in the midst of that bold blessing?

Who could you introduce yourself to this week?


Images by twentyonehundred productions team member Matt Kirk.
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Christine has served InterVarsity for 15 years, and is currently the Divisional Director for Indiana.

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