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ABIDE – How to Have a Gospel Conversation – John 4:1-30 (Brian Onken)

In John chapter four, we are invited into the story of the woman at the well.  In the first three chapters of the book, John has been sharing about how Jesus interacts with others and how people are experiencing an incremental movement toward Him due to the work of the Spirit. There is a kind of faith/belief that looks like receiving Jesus – not just being impressed by Him.

Jesus travels from Judea toward Galilee, and instead of going around Samaria as the Jews often would, He travels through the area.  While there, He stops at a well and has an interesting conversation with a woman who has come to draw water.  This was unusual in itself for reasons such as her being there alone midday and Jesus, a Jewish man, choosing to talk with her, but there is much more to see and learn from this account.

We see Jesus, as we have in the wedding at Cana account and his conversation with Nicodemus, modeling a unique way to interact with others and cooperate with the Spirit in drawing people to Himself.  

Two questions we can consider what this is teaching us about how to have a gospel conversation with others, one focusing on non-yet believers and one on believers:

  1. What can we learn from these interactions so far that would help us in having conversations with others who are on the path toward spiritual rebirth?
  2. What about the approach Jesus takes with others speaks to how He relates with us as believers?

Some thoughts and observations prompted by these questions include:

  • Jesus meets the woman where she is, directing the conversation to an understanding of her current state of life (unmarried now, living with a man, after five former marriages.)  He is not uncomfortable with the choices she’s made. We do not have to clean up our act before we relate with Him.
  • He patiently meets us where we are, understanding our current state of life and not turning His back on us in our mistakes and sinful choices.  We can go to Him even when we’ve turned aside from following Him completely.
  • He responds to her deflections graciously, while bringing the conversation back to her.  
  • He will get our attention back on the main thing in His love for us.
  • He does not push her to “convert.” He does not concern Himself with closing the deal. He allows the Spirit to do His work in His time.
  • We do not have to be concerned with the results of the conversation. We can let the Spirit work. This leads to more freedom in having these conversations.
  • He does not go down rabbit trails to answer every question she has.
  • He may not answer every question we have or not right away but we can raise any question with Him that we want to.
  • He connects with her using language that would resonate with her – she is drawing water, and He uses “Living Water” as a way to make a deeper spiritual connection (just like he used the “Born Again” language with Nicodemus, the only time He used that phrase.)
  • He uniquely speaks with us in ways that resonate with us individually. 

Jesus most wants us to get to know HIM.


  1. What has been your experience with “witnessing” in the past? How does this account align or not with what you were taught or what you have practiced?
  2. Is there someone in your life for whom you feel a burden to talk about Jesus? How can you meet them where they are?
  3. What should having a gospel conversation with a non-believer look like?  What about a gospel conversation with a believer?
  4. Think about your relationship with Christ. What most stands out to you regarding how Jesus interacted with the woman at the well and what does that bring to mind about your journey with Him?
  5. We’ve seen several aspects of Jesus’ character in these first few chapters.  What are you inspired to take away from this?

ABIDE – How to Have a Gospel Conversation – John 4:1-30 (Brian Onken)

Gospel Conversation

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