Navigating the Four Conversational Sound Barriers

When you travel to another country, one of the greatest challenges you face will likely be the language barrier.

If you cannot read or speak the language of that location, you will struggle to get around, buy food, or even find a bathroom. You will feel lost and overwhelmed. Why is it so frustrating? Because you are facing a major barrier to basic communication.

So before you travel, you memorize some basic words and phrases. That way, when the moment comes, you will have some way to communicate with the people around you. You can just ask, “¿Dónde está el baño?” without embarrassing yourself.

In a similar way, it can be hard to talk to people about Jesus. It can feel like you are facing a language barrier, and you just cannot find the words when the moment comes.

We have discovered four particularly difficult places in a spiritual conversation where most people need a little help. We call them the four sound barriers. These barriers are: Starting a Conversation, Getting Spiritual, Bringing up Jesus, and Asking for a Decision.

We have some simple questions for you to use to help you start a conversation on faith and not get stuck without words to communicate.

Starting a Conversation

Going from no conversation to a conversation is a normal, everyday kind of thing… until it is not. Some conversations just feel impossible to start. Sometimes it helps to just have your first line loaded up and ready to go. It does not need to be fancy. Try some really basic starters:

  • Hi, I’m _____. Are you new here? I don’t think I’ve seen you around.
  • Did you see the game/Super Bowl/Olympics/March Madness/World Series/etc. last night? Who did you want to win?
  • What kind of music are you into?
  • Do you want to sit with us at lunch? I noticed you have a new schedule.
  • Hey, I saw your T-shirt. Are you a ______ fan?

Getting Spiritual

Now that you are in a conversation, how do you bring up spiritual things? The easiest way is to just ask a question and listen to the answer.

They may not want to talk about spiritual things, and that is ok. You can always ask their permission, and trust that if they are not comfortable, they will tell you so.

However, it is impossible to know just by looking at someone if they will or will not want to talk about their spiritual life. That’s why you ask them. Try some of these questions:

  • May I ask about your family’s faith background? Do you believe the same way they do?
  • Do you ever think about God or want to know more about Him?
  • Do you go to church (or temple or mosque) anywhere?
  • If you could ask God one question, what would you ask?
  • Have you heard of Cru? It is a group of students who get together and talk about how God relates to their lives. Would you be interested in checking it out sometime?

Don't worry about having the right words. Just start the conversation and push through any awkwardness.

Bringing up Jesus

Moving from a spiritual conversation into a conversation about the gospel is a natural transition. You have just talked about spiritual things and now you would like to share your perspective.

There is no need to quiz them to test their Bible knowledge. Instead, you want to be curious if they have unanswered questions about what it means to follow Jesus. Most likely, they will be most interested in hearing your story of faith, rather than hearing all the things you know about God.

  • From what you know about Jesus, who do you think He was?
  • Using a scale from 1–10, how sure are you that you will go to heaven when you die?
  • May I show you a few things that have helped me have a relationship with God?
  • Jesus has made a big impact on my life. May I tell you about it?
  • In Cru, we have been learning about how to have a relationship with God. May I tell you what I have learned?

Inviting Someone to Make a Decision for Jesus

Inviting someone to make a decision for Christ can be both the most important question you have ever asked them and a question that is easy to put off. For many of your friends, after a clear presentation of the gospel, it is the most loving question you can ask, as it helps them clarify where they are in their own hearts.

  • A relationship with Jesus is more than just knowing about Him. We have to choose to follow Him. Can I show you what I mean? (Here, you can draw the two circle diagrams from “Knowing God Personally“)
  • Have you ever made a decision to ask Jesus into your life? Would you like to do that?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how interested are you in inviting Jesus into your life?
  • What is keeping you from inviting Jesus into your life?
  • Is this something you would like to do right now?

If someone wants to receive Jesus with you, you could lead them through a prayer like this…

“Lord Jesus, I want to know You personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.”

Reminders for Your Conversations

  1. Take the first step.
  2. Be curious about the other person, show a genuine interest, and be encouraging.
  3. Listen carefully. Care about them as a person and what they have to say.
  4. Ask open-ended questions (those which cannot be answered with “yes/no”).
  5. Don’t worry about having all the right words. Just start the conversation and push through any awkwardness.
  6. Pray for them!

Breaking through these barriers can feel awkward. Hopefully, these questions will give you some basic phrases to help you learn the language of sharing Jesus with others.

Use these, come up with your own, or brainstorm other ideas with a friend. Just keep the conversations moving toward Christ!

Next Step

Go deeper and grow with others by going through our Sound Barrier Series at It is a four-part small group series designed to help you overcome the barriers to having great conversations about Jesus.

Sound Barrier Series
This article is part of the Evangelism Collection. Read the rest of these articles to get an even better understanding of how to share your faith with students.


Cru Promo Videos

It was once said that “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Well, if that’s true, a video is worth a million. As we talk about Cru with students, administration, donors, volunteers, parents, and others, having a video can sometimes help them get the feel of what we do.

Below you’ll find a few videos that do just that. And if you don’t find what you’re looking for, check our YouTube channels at Cru High School and Gotothecampus. If we’ve got it, it’ll be there.

Cru Promo Video – 3 Minute Version

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Cru Promo Video – 1 Minute Version

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Cru Promo Video – 1 Minute Version (vertical)

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