There is a huge difference between giving a presentation and having a conversation. They have two completely different styles, formats, and goals. And most importantly, they produce very different results.

Sadly, many who are passionate about reaching others for Christ fail to be as effective as possible because their “witnessing” oftentimes becomes giving a presentation rather than merely having a conversation. Jesus did not go about with a bulleted list in his head that he presented to people. If he did, it would have probably included the following:

– God loves everyone
– Man is separated from God
– I am the plan to redeem man
– Repent, turn from your sins
– Accept me as your Lord and you will live forever with God

Jesus’ model was conversations

The problem is that everything I listed above is true and it is exactly what Jesus said, but he didn’t say it as a “presentation.” The above list is what people want to “tell” others so they are “converted,” and even though people are well intentioned, they are less effective because it is often in the form of a presentation. Jesus spoke these truths as parts of “conversations.” He varied the content of what he said and how he said it based on the needs of the person he was conversing with. His style was an exchange with questions and answers—something any conversationalist would seek to include.

A presentation

Like many people, I hate it when a person is speaking “at” me with an agenda, a program that they want to present. It lacks spontaneity and clearly comes across as what it is: a presentation. Many people have experienced Christians who go door-to-door as they witness to people about Jesus. Although they may ask an opening question, it soon becomes very clear that they are not interested in a real dialogue. They have a program in mind, a presentation they want to put on with their specific content—and people resist it.

A conversation

A conversation, on the other hand, is a two-way discussion. It is fluid and feels genuine because it is unprogrammed as you pursue tangents and a variety of ideas. A great conversation is a true exchange of ideas and counter-concepts. People are drawn to conversations, even those that include conflicting ideas, because they are relational.

Consider some of the differences below between a presentation and conversation:

Presentation

– Has an agenda
– Focused on imparting knowledge
– Is one sided—more of a monologue
– Lacks spontaneity
– The tone is speaking “at” rather than speaking “with”
– Feels cold

Conversation

– Is natural—fluid and spontaneous
– Focused on discovery and exchange
– Is two sided—a genuine dialogue
– The tone is speaking “with”
– Feels relational—warm

If we truly want to reach people, then we need to reach their hearts. We will all be better at reaching others for Christ if we become genuinely interested in others and learn to have conversations instead of presentations.