Disciplemaking - Lesson 15

Spiritual Conversations

In this session, Mary Jo Wilson reviews the importance of having spiritual conversations with others in order to share the Gospel and bring people to Christ. Using the example of Jesus and the woman at the well, Mary Jo emphasizes the importance of seeing people as individuals and respecting their stories. She encourages Christians to engage in eye-to-eye encounters with others, instead of objectifying or making assumptions about them. Additionally, she reminds listeners that spiritual conversations can begin in everyday situations and can lead to meaningful discussions about faith. Overall, attests that Christians need to be willing to engage in spiritual conversations and share their testimonies with the hope of leading them to Christ.
Taught by a Team
Taught by a Team
Lesson 15
Watching Now
Spiritual Conversations

I. Introduction

A. Importance of spiritual conversations

B. Difficulty in starting spiritual conversations

C. Jesus' example of having spiritual conversations

II. The Woman at the Well

A. Setting the scene

B. Seeing people as image-bearers of God

1. Eye-thou encounter

2. Value and respect for individuals

C. Engaging in conversation

1. Starting with everyday conversation

2. Acknowledging the other person's perspective

D. Overcoming barriers to spiritual conversations

1. Fear and discomfort

2. Misconceptions and stereotypes

III. Practical Tips for Having Spiritual Conversations

A. Listening actively and empathetically

B. Asking thoughtful questions

C. Sharing personal stories and experiences

D. Keeping the focus on Jesus

1. Sharing the gospel message

2. Pointing to Jesus' example and teachings

IV. Conclusion

A. Recap of the importance of spiritual conversations

B. Encouragement to put into practice the tips shared

C. Prayer for opportunities to share the gospel

  • Mary Jo Wilson and Joe Handley introduce themselves and express their excitement about the upcoming discipleship course, which aims to enhance participants' relationship with God and their work in the world, and encourage them to bring transformative change to their church and ministry.
  • Joe Handley outlines the elements that they will be covered in the Disciplemaking course: what is a disciple, the great commandment, becoming a disciple, being a disciple, fruitfulness, and multiplying disciples.
  • The lesson discusses the approach to discipleship, which is focused on the four gospels and building obedient disciples through the seven obedience; it emphasizes a holistic approach to following Jesus and the informed imagination, and the course will focus on the gospels of John, Matthew, Luke, and Mark.
  • Mary Jo Wilson emphasizes the importance of understanding the role of suffering and persecution in discipleship, as it is a recurring theme in the Gospels and is also a part of the early church experience, and discusses how enduring such hardships can be a formative experience for Christians.
  • The lesson discusses the importance of abiding in Christ as the key to joy in life, bearing fruit in one's life, and becoming a disciple of Jesus through a deep and communal relationship with Him.
  • Discipleship is not a program but a relationship. Abiding in Christ is the key to joy in life and bearing much fruit and is achieved through having a deep communal walk with Jesus and allowing Him to prune us to make us stronger.
  • Mary Jo Wilson discusses the importance of a posture of repentance and dependence on the Holy Spirit in the discipleship process, and highlights the work of the Holy Spirit in convicting of sin, guiding in decision making, and forming believers into Christ.
  • The instructors and students discuss their thoughts and experiences on what it means to be a disciple, including the importance of maintaining a growing relationship with God, the internal aspects of discipleship, abiding in God, the role of inviting God into everyday life, and the significance of pruning.
  • This session discusses the importance of becoming a disciple of Jesus and our identity in Christ, illustrated through the example of churches in Japan becoming centers for relief goods after the 2011 disasters and being seen as representatives of Christ by the community.
  • By taking this lesson, you will gain knowledge and insight into the relationship between the Sermon on the Mount and the Kingdom of God, including the importance of Jesus' teachings in the Sermon on the Mount and how they relate to the mission of the church and the call to discipleship.
  • The lesson discusses the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, where Jesus describes the Kingdom of God and how his followers are to live as salt and light in the world, raising the bar on the interpretation of the Old Testament law and calling for inner righteousness, forgiveness, and love for enemies.
  • This lesson reviews the importance of becoming like Jesus and displaying his characteristics, such as humility and generosity, to become authentic Christ-centered people in our communities, and emphasizes the need for communal support to grow in our faith.
  • In this group discussion about discipleship and the Sermon on the Mount, the students and instructors reflect on the Beatitudes and how they challenge and contrast with the values of the world, and discuss how Jesus lifted up marginalized people and called all his followers to be salt and light in the world.
  • In this lesson Mary Jo Wilson and Joe Handley discuss transitioning from becoming a disciple to being a disciple who makes disciples, with a focus on the overflow of abiding in Christ into the lives of others.
  • Mary Jo Wilson discusses the importance of spiritual conversations and how to approach them in our daily lives through the example of Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter 4.
  • Joe Handley discusses the idea of being a disciple of Jesus and how to share one's story and witness through different tools, including prayer, social media, and engaging with others through layering of interactions.
  • The class discusses the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman, highlighting how Jesus approached the woman with humility and respect, treating her like a real person and engaging in a conversation with her, despite social and cultural barriers. They also discuss how Jesus challenged his disciples to adopt a Kingdom way that breaks down barriers and recognizes the value and dignity of all people.
  • This session focuses on the importance of reproducibility and sustainability in disciple-making, drawing on examples from the book of Acts and personal anecdotes.
  • Joe Handley discusses the importance of a reproducible culture of discipleship in the Kingdom of God, drawing on the idea of the mustard seed and how small actions can have a big impact, and provides examples of how this can be implemented in different contexts such as micro churches.
  • This lesson provides information on small groups in discipleship, including their definition, anatomy, purpose, characteristics, steps for starting one, the role of the leader, the discipleship process in small groups, and their importance in discipleship in general.
  • Instructors Joe Handley and Mary Jo Wilson discuss with students their visions of the Kingdom of God, with one sharing their goal of sharing their story to help others understand the word of God, while another likens the planting of seeds to the growth of faith, stressing the importance of patience and trust in the process of nurturing them.
  • Joe Handley and Mary Jo Wilson discuss the importance of creating a practical plan for discipleship and ministry, encouraging listeners to reflect on what they've learned, and write a strategic personal plan for following through on their learning.
  • This lesson teaches how to pull together the different sections of a discipleship plan using the model of vision, intent and means, and suggests including a vision, introduction, conclusion and rule of life, while encouraging reflection and sharing with others.
  • Joe Handley discusses the importance of creating a "rule of life" as part of a personal discipleship plan, which helps to balance and organize different areas of life, including spiritual, social, intellectual, and physical aspects.
  • Joe Handley and Mary Jo Wilson close their discipleship course by expressing gratitude for the opportunity to learn and grow together, and offer a prayer of blessing for their students to continue on their lifelong journey as faithful followers of Jesus.

In this class, you will explore the foundations, methods, and models of disciplemaking, drawing from biblical principles, historical perspectives, and theological insights. You will examine the disciplemaking approaches of Jesus and Paul, as well as modern examples and strategies. Additionally, you will learn how to develop a personal disciplemaking plan through the assessment of spiritual gifts and identification of ministry opportunities. Finally, you will delve into disciplemaking in the local church and beyond, including church-based strategies, cross-cultural disciplemaking, and equipping and multiplying disciplemakers.

Mary Jo Wilson
Spiritual Conversations 
Lesson Transcript

We've been talking about how important it is that our life is a testimony and it shines forth Christ, not with perfection, but we show his grace in our lives, even in our fallen, thus even in the messiness of life that we are showing people that Jesus is real and he's walking in our life. Now, today we're going to talk about spiritual conversations because there are times when we want to bring up those spiritual things. That is also part of our witness in a lot of places in the world. Right now, it seems hard to have these spiritual conversations. It's hard to bring them up. It doesn't come up in everyday conversation. And we look to Jesus. He's often having spiritual conversations. And if you're enjoying the gospel as you see him a lot of times interacting with people and having these really deep spiritual conversations. But Jesus is teaching about spiritual things. Of course people are coming up to him. He's kind of become a celebrity over time, and so people are drawn to him for healing, for answers, for help. And we're not we're not necessarily in that situation. There are times when we see Jesus in a in a more anonymous situation and where he is bringing up spiritual conversations. And one classic example I'd like to talk with you about today is when Jesus was alone, He was tired and he sat down by a well. And you may know the story. We're told it was about noon and a woman came up to draw water and he simply said to her, Will you give me a drink? That's pretty every day. That's how this started. A lot of the important spiritual conversations that we have just come up. They start in the everyday. It seems that he's speaking to her. His even recognizing her existence was not. So every day later, when the disciples come back and they see him talking to this woman, it says, It was so awkward. Nobody would even say to him, Why are you talking to this woman? But they were shocked. It was scandalous. And yet Jesus saw her. He didn't objectify her. She wasn't just a woman. That is, you know, to be. It was about noon. This is when respectable women aren't really out darling water. But he saw her. He not only saw her, he spoke to her and even asking for help. This is one important step in having spiritual conversations. And that's just seeing people remembering that every person we encounter is in the image of God. And we see that when we look at them, we value them and we show them respect. We seek to understand their story. This alone would make Christians stand out in our world Today, society said she's a problem to be ignored. And Jesus went right in there and he asked her for help treating her with respect. Martin Buber describes this as an eye thou encounter in contrast to I. It encounters and a lot of our daily life. We're in more professional settings of purchasing things, of encountering people in a professional way. And it's easy to objectify them, treat them as objects. They're there to do a job or they're a stranger. We don't see them, but we may even label them a certain way. Just assume making assumptions. Even in our attempts to share the gospel, we can sometimes objectify a person, say that's a soul to be one without really seeing that person and appreciating their story. Seeing a person is the beginning. That was not an easy conversation they had. She seems defensive. Maybe she's been treated poorly by man and she pushes back twice to his to his comments. But he caught her attention. He said he had something more wonderful than she could have ever imagined. A spring of living, water welling up to eternal life. And she said, Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming back here to draw water. All of a sudden, I'm sure that she didn't understand what he was saying, but within that statement there was something. She was like, I need that. And she responded to that and the conversation got real and she found her messiah. And that spring of living water. Now Jesus used this situation, as he often does, as a teachable moment, as training for his disciples. She left her water jar. We're told that she heads out in that. Let me read this in John Chapter 428 to 30, then leaving her water jar, She's. She's excited. You can tell. The woman went back to the town. This is just an impulse. She spontaneously was like, I have to tell people what just happened. Went back to town and said to the people, Come see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah? She simply told her story of what Jesus had done for her and asked a question. It says they came out of the town and made their way toward him. Meanwhile, the disciples are completely missing the point. They are so embarrassed. They just want to talk about food. And Jesus says to them in verse 32, he says, My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Now, there they were, confused. Each of us as disciples have been sent. We each have a part in finishing his work. Can we say with Jesus? And I'm sure the disciples, they would. I said they were confused. They were not tracking so well. My food, my sustenance is to do the will of him who sent me and finish his work. So they come. The group is coming. And I can imagine about the time that this group from town. They're just coming into view. Jesus says to them, I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields. They are ripe for harvest. It was an object lesson of sharing Christ, and he was going to send them out. He was going to send them out into the towns, but he was training them. There is the harvest. It's ripe right now and you are missing it. You didn't even think it was. It was appropriate to speak to this woman. There are all these opportunities. Open your eyes. Look up and see the harvest. Now, I think that they tells us that they wound up. They wound up staying there for two days doing follow up. These disciples, I'm sure they were just wanting to move on. They're going through Samaria and they were ready to Jerusalem. They just want to move on. But now they're doing the follow up and they're seeing these people that they had difficulty seeing initially are now thrilled with what God is doing. And they said it says in verse 42, they said to the woman, We no longer believe just because of what you said. Now we have heard for ourselves and we know that this man really is the savior of the world. This is so powerful. We can learn so much from this story and see how God is working and using this simple encounter to bring about a mini revival. And basically, the woman now, this woman that the disciples disregarded, she became the model for sharing that story and bringing in more people and really multiplying that seed of the gospel. We can't really see people as God does unless we experience that ourselves, that we know how God sees us and values us. That every morning when we open our eyes, we remember I am a child of God. He treasures me. He is with me. He has cleansing of all my sins. He's walking with me today that every day we know that we are valued. And that allows us to see others with that same kind of value. Just to really sit in that and understand that. And I honestly, that takes time because we have a lot of other voices that tell us other things. But increasingly, as we experience God and we experience him in the day to day through difficulties, through ups and downs, we have this assurance, the Holy Spirit gives us this assurance that we are His, that we are treasured, and that it's not just something special for us, but all people around us. We become a conduit of God's tenderness to the people around us. We express his value for that person. We know that wherever we are, we are a center. Wherever you are, you are a center. And this is not a special job for certain Christians. This is every disciple, every follower of Jesus is a center one. And we keep our eyes open, sensitive. The Holy Spirit opening. We're looking for readiness in a person's heart. You know, I don't know how Jesus saw that readiness, but maybe it's testing. And sometimes we test, we make a statement and we're seeing if there is openness or not, because she started with kind of defensiveness. But Jesus continued. And when we have the courage to step out God's can surprises in ways we never imagined when our neighbor came to the Alpha, to our house for the alpha course. I don't know what drew her. She wasn't looking for Christian. She wasn't interested in Christianity. Maybe it was the meal we served. Maybe she was curious. I mean, we presented as a safe space. Just come and learn. But later, she said I had no plans to become a Christian, and Jesus surprised her even after maybe the third session we did went on, What is the Bible? And we had a set of Bibles we would loan out to people because they had never if they never touched a Bible. And we would say, just borrow it, read it, bring it back, give it to them. If they had one they like. But we brought different versions of the Bible so they could see God's word is consistent. Are these different vehicles? We had a manga, Bible and manga that is a Japanese Bible. That was all pictures, basically cartoons, if I can say that way. That's Japanese manga and it's the Old Testament, New Testament, all the stories. She borrowed that and read the entire book in a day. Now this shows spiritual hunger and readiness, and God continue to work in her life and she just amazing Jesus follower. My husband did research on disciple multiplication in Japan. He was really passionate about this. He wanted to know how people not just made disciples, but how that continued. And those disciples are making disciples even to the third generation. In the process of his research. One conclusion that he came to is that many people he was looking at when and what situations they would come to Christ, that he found that many people were open to the gift of God's grace in their lives when they were going through difficulty and Christians came alongside them with compassion and care in real or in real ways. They just were there as a friend and a companion in difficult times sometimes is just showing up and being present. And those experiences, those gifts, relational gifts, begin to build bridges and increase openness. And we'll find that people will be coming to us with questions and they'll know as we just share things. It's about the stories we don't have to be preaching, but just sharing how God just really answered a prayer for me today. Do you mind if I share that? Not in a pushy way, but just to be in a natural way to be expressing how God is helping us in our life. And definitely keep praying for them and sometimes offer to pray for that and say a simple prayer right there. You know, there are some people. They never have anyone praying for them. So remember that. Keep praying for them. And as I said, you may be the only one. Show a genuine interest. And then when there's an opening, be ready to tell your story, your story of what Jesus has done in your life. And don't forget that God is sending you to your family as well. Today's story illustration was front was in a public setting. He did not know this woman, but our families, also our place, our workplace, people that we are around our neighbors. And so there are all these opportunities to remember. I am a saint. One look up and see the harvest. Now I'd like to share you my story. When I was 15, I my brothers were both getting Eagle Scout Awards and I went to the ceremony. That time I was raised Catholic family and had been very religious. I knew stories about God. I had that context. But I was just at this point in my life, I'm 15 right now, what that looks like. But God seemed very far off. He was a big God. He was transcendent out there, but I think he was kind of busy doing, you know, running the world. So it didn't feel like he noticed me a lot. And so I went to this ceremony and there was Steve. He was another scout from another troop. And, you know, a man in uniform. What can I say? I was smitten with Steve, and my friend also had his friend, but she was interested in him and my neighbor who knew Steve and this other young man, she said she went to their church. Oh, my gosh. Okay. She said, Would you like to come to church? Yes. So I went to church that Sunday. This was an interdenominational church. It felt comfortable going there. It was going with my neighbors. So I felt comfortable with that. And I was in this church for the first time, and there was Steve. Sadly, his girlfriend was sitting next to him. But in that setting during the worship, that transcendent God that I knew about was there present and just I mean, I. I to remember the sermon, but it was really with people worshiping and God's presence and spirit, that that was just was a turning corner for me on the way home that day. I told the woman, They've given us a ride. I said, I'd like to buy a Bible. I wanted that day going home from church to buy a Bible so I could start. It was the living Bible and the Catholic version. And so that was okay as well. They were blue, but that day I felt like my insides had been cleaned out with a toothbrush. I mean, on a cellular level. I felt so refreshed and so clean that I didn't understand cleanly the God, you know, this is what happened. I didn't understand all that, but I definitely experienced it that day. God surprised me. And God is working in amazing ways around us. And as we are filled with his spirit and sensitive to his emotions and just showing up, we'll see him use us in amazing ways. We provided a little template that is a modified version of Mitsuo Fukuda's book from his book Upward, Outward, Inward. And it's a way he suggests this short, either a 92nd, three minute short testimony that you practice, that you work it out and you practice it. So you're really comfortable. You want to be prepared to be ready for those moments, to just share your testimony succinctly, powerfully, in a real way. And it's just it's just your story. And people honestly, they love hearing this. And so if you could work out your testimony, practice it, practice it on friends. And we've done some in Japan, some people practice it on their non-Christian family members say, do you mind? I've got this homework I've got to do. And they practice their testimony. Find ways to practice it, be comfortable with it. And Joe is going to talk about an opportunity when you can even maybe use that in in a specific setting. So thrilled that we are all sent once. And I encourage you to know you are sent out to do the father's will. So look up. There are some fields out there that are ripe for the harvest and every day we pray he'll use us to bring that seed of the gospel to them.