How to Have Gospel Conversations with your Jewish Friends
(or anyone else for that matter!)
Realize the need
Everyone needs the joy, peace, and purpose that comes from knowing God, and that is only possible through Yeshua (Jesus). You may have heard that Jewish people have their own way to God. But God sent Jewish prophets to communicate His plan of salvation to Jewish people, and Jesus came to fulfill those prophecies. So if Jewish people don’t need Jesus, who does?
Understand the challenge
It is difficult for anyone to accept the fact that we have no hope of a relationship with God on our own merits – that hard truth touches a nerve at the very core of our identity. On top of that, Jewish people are taught a deep-seated belief that embracing Jesus is incompatible with Jewish life. So any suggestion that Jewish people need Jesus touches yet another nerve – it’s considered a threat to our family and community identity. To understand why, go to Is Christianity Anti-Semitic?
Ever since Yeshua’s first disciples, some Jewish people have been curious, even seriously interested, in knowing the truth about Him. You can be one of the people who helps your Jewish friend find that truth!
Don’t let misunderstandings stop you from sharing the gospel. For example, some people assume:
- I’d have to know Hebrew and/or be an Old Testament scholar to have a meaningful gospel conversation with my Jewish friend.
- If I can’t answer my friend’s questions, I will lose credibility.
- It’s best to let my life be a testimony and wait for others to ask what makes me different.
- Many Jewish people don’t read or speak Hebrew and are not especially familiar with the Bible in any language.
- Admitting you don’t have all the answers can actually build credibility and trust, especially if you offer to research your friend’s questions and continue the conversation later.
- While it is definitely important to live our life as a testimony, waiting for people to ask might be a missed opportunity. Many Jewish people see religion as a private matter and might be uncomfortable asking about your beliefs, unless or until you mention them.
10 Tips to help you have gospel conversations with Jewish friends:
- Remain relational. Your friends will sense that your desire to talk about Jesus comes from a place of love and acceptance, and that will help even if they are not ready to continue the conversation.
- Be vulnerable. Don’t be afraid for others to see how important your faith is to you. If your relationship with God gives you joy, it will be natural for you to talk about Him, and you should not be afraid to do so.
- Ask questions. Your interest in your friends’ stories and opinions can help them open up. Questions about what your friend might be doing for an upcoming Jewish holiday can be a good place to start.
- Share your story. The reality of God in your life is powerful. Hearing how you became a follower of Jesus and how God answers your prayers can help your Jewish friend want what you have.
- Encourage your Jewish friend to read the New Testament, and don’t be afraid to answer questions from the Bible. Invite people to see how Scripture impacts you, for example: “I’ve found encouragement and comfort in a passage of the Bible. May I show it to you?”
- Be persistent in prayer, even if your friends do not respond positively at first. It’s not unusual for the initial response to the gospel to be negative, but God can and does turn things around. Keep praying and looking for opportunities.
- Ask if they have read chapter 53 from the prophet Isaiah, and if not, see if they would be willing to sit down with you to take a look. Ask them who it sounds like to them. (View the Top 40 Messianic Prophecies)
- Share an article or video that shows a Jewish journey to faith in Jesus that might be of interest to and if you don’t know where to look for one, check out our website. If your friend says it is impossible to be Jewish and believe in Jesus, see if they would be willing to check out a different point of view.
- Think about every day things in your life that can become an opportunity to show what Jesus means to you. It could be as simple as picking up someone else’s litter in a park and tying it to how God is grieved when people make a mess of things, but He was willing to come and participate in restoring things. The more you see the gospel in every day things, the more opportunities you’ll have to share the gospel.
- Follow through. If your friend is open, ask if they want to receive what Jesus offers for themselves. Don’t assume they will know they need to pray to receive Jesus; explain what that means, and invite them to pray with you.
So with all these tips, will it be easy to share your faith with Jewish friends? It probably still will be challenging, but that’s okay. Because God has a special part for you to play in the salvation of Jewish people, as Paul said in Romans 11:11:
I say then, have they [the Jewish people] stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.
As you live out the love and grace of the gospel and freely share what Jesus has done for you, you will take your place as part of that wonderful group of people who will cause Jewish people to want to know more about Jesus.