Helping people pursue God doesn’t always start with someone’s spiritual needs. If you really want to make a disciple, you might need to consider a person’s felt needs first.
What kind of felt needs?
Sometimes people in our circle of relationships have physical needs. They might need help with a major project around the house, or with occasional babysitting, or to borrow a truck. People have relationship needs. They might need someone to talk to about the troubles their kids are going through or about how to help their aging parents. If you are available to help when people feel a need, you show that you care and that you can be trusted when something more personal arises.
Felt needs can lead to spiritual needs
Sometimes people feel a spiritual need – like a need for forgiveness or for God’s help in a crisis – but often they don’t. And when they do feel it, they don’t always want to talk about it because it can feel pretty vulnerable. Jesus typically started with felt needs in order to demonstrate his concern for people. He healed and fed people. At times this led to deeper conversations – but sometimes it didn’t. When it did, it was natural and not forced. The conversations flowed out of the practical help Jesus gave.
Be patient in the relationship
What this means is that you don’t to have all the answers to whatever questions people might have before you can start helping them. To help people pursue God, you can be patient. You don’t need to try to pry into their spiritual lives right off the bat. Start where they are at, love them in practical ways, build trust, and see where the relationship goes.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- What are some of the practical needs you’ve noticed in people around you during the past week?
- Read Matthew 9:35-36. Why did Jesus take time and energy to address people’s felt needs?
- Why is it helpful to build trust and demonstrate genuine care before sharing spiritual truth?
- Are there times you can address spiritual needs without starting with felt needs first? Explain.
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.