7 Tips to Help You Plant Seeds for the Gospel
Believers are all called to share the gospel, but the process of getting to the gospel in conversations can be a challenge. Sometimes it is necessary to lay some groundwork in our conversations and relationships before that can happen.
Some refer to this groundwork as “planting seeds”. This involves introducing ideas into the conversation that move the person one step closer to God, remove barriers of resistance, and prepare the heart of the person to hear more.
The apostle Paul alludes to this strategy in Colossians 4:6:
Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
Paul is exhorting us to “season” our speech as one would season our food, to give our conversations flavor to cause people to want to hear more.
Here are some best practices on how to season your conversations in a way that plants seeds for the gospel.
- Speak to the needs, interests, and problems of the person. Ask questions to discern their story and interests, then look for bridges that move them towards God and the gospel. For example, the other day I met a Lyft driver who had started 3 businesses during Covid and was asking my opinion about which to go with. I then asked her which business she was most passionate about, which required the least amount of resources, and which was the most profitable. I then transitioned to the fact the most effective way I have found to discern which way to go is to seek the Lord’s guidance and wisdom. She was open to the discussion and we transitioned to spiritual things.
- Focus on listening. Sometimes we get so nervous about sharing the gospel that we neglect to give others our full attention when listening. Listening can be just as important as speaking because it shows the person that we care and gives us an opportunity to learn how the person views God, themselves, and the world – plus it gives us insight into how to connect the gospel to their lives.
- Be careful with using someone else’s approach. There is benefit from seeing how others plant seeds. However, make sure the method you use fits your style and the situation. For example, I know of an approach that says to transition directly to the gospel by reviewing a list of the 10 commandments with the person to show people that they are sinners. While that is a way to plant a seed, the confrontational style does not work for everyone and is not always proper for all situations. When planting seeds, be yourself and pray for guidance with each situation.
- Stay in the flow of the conversation. As you seek to help others think more about spiritual things, one helpful tactic is to build upon what is being discussed in the conversation. For example, in John 4, Jesus took a woman from physical water that could not satisfy to “living water” that could. Avoid sharp turns that are random and unrelated to what was previously discussed.
- Avoid distractions. Do not plant seeds about politics, famous pastors, celebrities, or secondary issues like the role of women in the church, church government, or denominations. It is totally fine if they bring it up, in fact God may bring to mind a bridge, but do not bring it up on your own. You want to minimize possible rabbit trails leading away from the gospel.
- Be authentic and transparent. Be willing to share your own experiences with someone, including times where you have struggled. People do not want to hear that Christians do not have problems. They know that is not true. Many do want to hear about Jesus and how He walks with you through your problems and is your source of strength and peace. Authenticity is a key that can open many doors that otherwise could remain shut.
- Look for the opportunity to plant The Seed. As you plant seeds in your conversations, remember the goal is moving them closer to Jesus. Evaluate everything you say with the goal to plant the seed, the gospel. Sometimes it will be a natural next step; other times you may be discussing a movie and suddenly you’re asked about why Jesus means so much to you. The best best practice is to always be ready for the moment to share the gospel.
When it comes to planting seeds, remember, you may not end each conversation with the gospel or with someone trusting Christ, but you can end it knowing you helped them take the next step toward God. And when it comes to someone’s road to the gospel, every mile marker along the way is just as important as all the others.
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