THE ACT Principle
How to Start a Conversation about Spiritual Things
©1997 West Texas A&M University’s Baptist Student Ministries/ Revised 2017
Written by Dr. Buddy Young
The Servant Evangelism model used at Beach Reach meets a need or offers to meet a need in the life of the non-believer. This concept of Demonstrating the gospel is step one of the Steps to Servant Evangelism.
Remind the students to complete the Servant Evangelism Bible Study before the next training session.
- The ACT approach to evangelism is designed to give the believer tools that will enable them to make a connection with non-believers by finding common interests or similar struggles. This process of Discovering things about the person is step two of the Steps to Servant Evangelism.
- The purpose of the ACT principle is to train the believer to move any conversation from a dialogue about secular issues toward a discussion of spiritual matters. This procedure of Directing the conversation to spiritual matters is step three of the Steps to Servant Evangelism.
The ACT Principle is intended to teach steps two and three in the Steps to Servant Evangelism. The acrostic ACT will help the participant remember the three aspects used to turn a conversation toward spiritual matters. Two sections, the A (Ask questions) and the C (Connect with the person), are used to teach step two. They are designed to instruct the believer in how to get a conversation started and discover common ground with a non-believer. The T (Turn the conversation), the third section, is used to teach step three. It is meant to train the student in the use of transition questions utilized to redirect a discussion to spiritual matters.
Getting the Conversation Started
This may sound simplistic, but many students don’t know how to get a conversation started with a stranger. Evangelism is all about talking to people. If you don’t know how to get a conversation started it will be hard to tell someone about Jesus.
ASK questions about the person
The easiest way to talk to someone is ask them questions about themselves. People generally love to talk (brag) about themselves.
- You can use the standard 5 W questions listed below or something similar:
What’s your name ?
Where are you from ?
Where do you go to school ?
What’s your major ?
Why did you come here ?
Believe it or not these questions are very effective at Beach Reach and on your campus, because everyone is interested in meeting new people and bragging about themselves. Be creative and develop other questions that will help you get to know the person. Look for logos on their clothing (pictures and posters in their dorm or apartment) that you can use to inquire about.
CONNECT with the person by finding common interests
Everyone has something in common with everyone else. If you are a college student you have many things in common with other college students. Such as: money problems, relationship struggles, exercise (or lack of), classes, family situations, etc.
You can find common interests, by asking questions about issues you have in common.
- You can use the 4 F questions listed below or something similar:
Facebook/Other Social Media:
What is your favorite method of social media (facebook, instagram, snapchat, etc)?
So what do like to do or listen to?
Are you the only one in your family in college?
Where does your family live?
Did you come down with some friends?
Are you involved in any clubs or campus organizations?
Do you have a job? How are you paying for college?
Keep asking questions till you find something in common with them.
Opening the Conversation to Spiritual Matters
The goal is to turn the conversation toward a discussion of Spiritual issues and ultimately about a relationship with Jesus. As you listen to the person, pray that the Holy Spirit will guide to the right moment to begin talking about Spiritual things.
TURN the conversation toward Spiritual issues with a transitional question.
A transitional question is the easiest way to open the conversation to Spiritual issues. This type of question is about God or spiritual issues. The questions used should promote discussion, rather than an “I’m right your wrong” argument, or a simple yes /no response. The idea is to get the non-believer to talk about what they know about Christianity and help them to put aside false ideas in order to enter into a relationship with Jesus.
There are a wide variety of transition questions that can be used in evangelism. (See the entire list of questions entitled Selected Transitional Questions). The transitional question that we will use for Beach Reach is
“What brings you the greatest satisfaction?”or Have you taken the Jesus Challenge ?
The question is opened ended and designed to create discussion about spiritual matters. The question allows the non-believer to freely express their opinions in a non-threatening way. The questions promote dialogue, which helps the non-believer feel a part of the interaction rather than the target of an evangelistic encounter.
It is essential that this question or something similar be memorized to employ as the transitional tool to shift the flow of the conversation to the gospel.
Using the Question
The question was developed to be asked in a sequential question type format. In the midst of a conversation, one simply asks, “Do you mind if I ask you a question that I like to ask the people that I meet?” If the person gives you permission proceed with the questions.
Practice the ACT Principle
To close the session get with one other person you do not know.
You will have 5 minutes to use the ACT principle to find out all you can about them and turn the conversation toward Spiritual matters using the Satisfaction question or the Jesus Challenge question.