(The following is adapted from the Appendix of the Revised First Edition of the new book, More Disciples, available today on Amazon or Kindle. *) One of the hardest parts about launching a disciple-making life is getting from “Hello” to a spiritual conversation or group. Statements like these (below) can help you steer the subject toward spiritual things and even “filter” to see if your friend or listener is open to hearing spiritual things. Some call these “Shema” statements. (Shema is the Aramaic word for “Listen.” It’s the opening word in Deuteronomy 4, “Hear oh Israel…”)
In addition, statements like these can help others realize that you are a genuinely a person of faith. As a result, if/when they have a problem or feel troubled someday, they might remember that you are a Godly person and come to you seeking spiritual help. If they have a dream with some kind of deeper meaning (maybe a spiritual meaning?), for example, or if they feel at the end of their rope, they might ask for guidance. Of course, these statements only work if you’re truly authentic from the inside out in your love and speech. On top of all that, they help us establish more courage in bringing up God in our everyday conversations. Try setting a goal to use one Shema statement per day.
Here are a bunch of samples to get you started. You’ll soon be thinking of others on the spot.
“I read something in the Bible today that seems hard for me to obey”.
“I wonder how (a religious behavior) connects to __ (a heart issue)?”
Verbally long for the day when ugly things will be swept away when Jesus returns.
“God speaks to me in prayer or through his Word.”
“I was having a hard time with _ (an issue), so I _ (a spiritual solution).”
“I asked God for help and He…”
Ask questions like, “How do you show love to God?” or “What was the last thing you heard from God?”
“I read a wonderful story today. May I tell you?”
“God taught me something today.”
“I read something really interesting about God today.”
“God is light, and he shines into the dark places of my heart.”
“Do you think God could stop all of the bloodshed in…?”
“Did you ever have a dream from God?”
Use a Proverb to apply to a current situation.
“How should a person of God act here?”
Thank God for something difficult.
“Do you think God cares about….?”
“God wants to walk with me so I walk with Him.”
“I believe only with God there is hope for….”
When telling your children’s names, or your own name, share the meaning.
Mention something that you prayed for and how it was answered.
Response to a social issue.
“Jesus dealt with and said some interesting things about it.” “As I was praying for you today I sensed God…” “I feel encouraged about something that I learned about God.” If you are by the sand or looking at stars in the sky, reminisce about God’s blessing to Abraham. “God healed my friend.” “I feel sad when I see trash, because God created the earth.” “I was reading today and God reminded me…” “I am thankful for ________. What are you thankful for?”
“God hates injustice and he has a lot to say about it.”
“Do you know on which day God created…?”
Context = complaining about their country… “It doesn’t matter which country you are in but to be where God wants you to be.” “I know this is a place of great conflict and God wants you to experience peace.”
“Can I tell you a story?”
“I don’t need _____ to protect me. I pray for God to protect me.”
Children: “Blessing and hard work make me rely more on God.”
Spouse: “God will give me a wife in just the right time.”
In response to not having children… “Marriage is a picture of Jesus and His church.”
“Yes, I miss home, but God meets me in my loneliness. God will never leave me nor forsake me.
“What is most important to you?”
“What do you think are the most important values you can give to your children?”
“When did you feel most safe or secure?”
“Can we pray for this meal?”
“Can we please bless your home or your family?”
Sometimes the most challenging part of discipleship is getting the conversation to spiritual things. These statements go a long way in helping to make that happen.
Have you other suggestions? Let us know what works for you.