Turn These Four Emotional Barriers Into Pathways To A Spiritual Conversation


Phil Miglioratti

The Reimagine.Network



The sign outside our church building heralded a scripture verse. It was a declaration to those driving or walking past our entryway that all have sinned.  As I grew-up in my faith, I read it countless times as I came to the building2, 3, 4 times a week for worship, discipleship groups ministry team meetings, prayer gatherings. It was not only a declaration to the community, but it was also a reminder to the members of our call to evangelism.


As I grew in my understanding of the Bible, I began to think about what our scripture choice revealed about our evangelistic emphasis. I began to see the connection between our Pastor’s passion for the apostle Paul’s teaching in Romans and our church sign’s headlining of our guilt before God due to our sin. Our communication of the Gospel of Jesus focused on sin, guilt, falling short of the glory of God.


While I am grateful for the foundation laid by the leaders and teachers in my childhood congregation, I have long ago realized that, while the verse we chose and the teaching emphasized by our Pastor throughout Romans is biblically accurate, it is not the sole way in which to invite people to investigate the Gospel; news that is good. Understanding our guilt is essential to understanding salvation in Christ, but it is not the only way to begin spiritual conversations.


It seems to me Jesus began conversations partly based on the emotional status of the person or group he encountered.  For example:

  • The woman at the well was shamed and shunned by the community, having been discarded by pervious husbands
  • The woman in sin knew she was guilty and was in fear of her life
  • The Pharisees were angry at how Jesus threatened Jewish traditions and their security
  • The crowds gathered to listen with great anticipation and spiritual hunger
  • The lame and the lepers were social outcasts, thereby poor, hungry, lonely


He, himself, was always the ultimate direction and destination of Jesus’ teaching: “I am the way…” but he began those encounters in-the-moment. He discerned the ‘what’ (situation) and ‘where’ (location) but especially the ‘who’ (condition). Following the leading of the Holy Spirit, he made a connection with each person or group in a way that related to their emotional state.


Every person you interact with has a primary touch point, an emotional path your message must travel. As people listen, they are thinking about the content (text) of what you say but are also wrapping their response in an emotion or feeling (context). They are not merely listening to determine if they agree or disagree or need clarification. They are taking their emotional temperature as to how your ideas make them feel.

  • Do they fell as if you telling (talking to them) or selling (seeing them as a customer)?
  • From their perspective, does it feel as if you are yelling (scolding or preaching)?



The dictionary and thesaurus have scores of terms that designate an emotional disposition. These four categories provide a simple template to categorize those many descriptors.

  • Bad – Feeling guilt for wrong action or motivation; remorse, inferior, judged
  • Sad – Feeling discouraged, dismissed, ignored, shamed, hurt by another’s action, lack of response or loss; desperate, despondent, dejected, pessimistic, sorrowful
  • Mad – Feeling angry because of words said to them or about them, responding to the injustice of a person or an event; offended, annoyed, bitter, indignant, hateful, rage, unforgiving
  • Glad – Feeling good, positive, or loved from an experience or a relationship; pleased; content, peaceful, hopeful, joyful, elated


Being sensitive to the primary attitude/feeling of the person we speak with does not indicate we are modifying our beliefs or reshaping the Gospel to fit the mood or whim of the hearer. We are praying and listening for the discernment and wisdom that will empower us to relate well to someone who needs the gift of eternal, endless and limitless, life.

  • Is their emotional status a barrier or an open door?
  • Would a question from you help hem reveal more about how they feel about life?
  • How can you affirm the value of the person you are conversing with?
  • Do you identify or have you had a similar experience or emotional response as the other person?
  • Does a Scripture come to mind that has enlightened or inspired or convicted you?
  • “Would it be ok with you if I said a prayer?
  • Continue to listen to their story, until you see an opportunity to:

                        Speak forgiveness to guilt

                        Apply love to shame

                        Contrast grace to anger

                        Offer a better heaven to happiness


As a college student I was forever impacted by this comment on the “Graffiti” page of a Christian magazine (published by Inter-Varsity):

-   -   -   -   -   -   -  -  -  -  ­



(scribbled reply) 

What’s the Question?

-   -   -   -   -   -   -  -  -  -  ­


Yes!  Jesus is the answer.

But is it possible we too often lead with what we have discovered? Too quickly reached our conclusion without inviting or involving them in the process?

IF so, the result is we feel good because we have shared the good news but they have not been engaged in the conversation.


Before we get to the “who” of Jesus, we need to, like Jesus himself did, consider and respond to the “who” we are walking/talking with. What do they think and what makes them feel that way?


I believe to “always be ready to give an answer when someone asks you about your hope,” (1 Peter 3:15), we must do more than learn biblical doctrines and memorize a list of spiritual laws or a series of steps to salvation. Jesus is the answer, but to ignore the question on the mind and in the heart of the person you want to share with turns a conversation into a sales pitch. Discerning emotional status is like asking a guide for directions, which we hope will give us the opportunity to the talk about the person and work of Jesus Christ. A guide to the path that will help the seeker comprehend the truths of the Gospel more quickly, more clearly, more compellingly.



Related Articles:

            Fruit of the Spirit Evangelism

            Let Love Rule Your Prayers

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  • I was silently Informed that there were people who needed this. I was just obeying Instructions. Evanlogically, this article addresses one of the biggest issues in Evangelism today.
    Other than the politicization, this neglect of the seeker’s perspective describes how Evangelism, not just keeps, but is actually driving, His Children from Him. That is one Evanlogical reason why so many elegant edifices built, allegedly for His Glory, stand in ignominious vacuity.
  • From Mark Mirza - -

    Excellent Phi

    This a difficult truth to own. 

    But you walked people into it with precision and care.

    Nice job.

  • ec708f15-596a-4326-bac8-3d3a4e60f57e.pngJuly 2021

    Why facts don't change people

    We think people will change if they have the correct information (the facts). And many times they do. When they don't make a desired change, we often assume it's because they don't have the correct information, so we tell them (again). 

    Our coaching has demonstrated time and time again that people usually know the information but they process those facts differently than we do and thus don't change. They may:
    • Not believe the information. And thus, reject it.
    • Not trust the source. And thus, discount the information.
    • Feel nervous about the unknowns of the change. And remain emotionally attached to their previous pathway.
    • Have goals or values or needs that compete with the change.
    The point is, information or more information, is rarely the key to someone changing their mind and behavior. 

    You must explore the internal, often unspoken, reasons a person isn't changing. This is the only way to get past the four objections listed above. It's not easy because the person you're speaking with usually doesn't understand what exactly is holding them back, and why.

    Coaching skills are valuable because change is so difficult. Coaching gets to the underlying reasons, emotions, and competing values holding someone back from their desired change.

    It takes more than just basic coaching skills to do this in a powerful way. So, we have a number of classes to help you gain the skills and tools needed.

    A first step is the Coaching Mastery Certificate Program. It provides the training, practice, and feedback you need to gain the skills and confidence to effectively coach people through their desired change.

    If you've been coaching for a while, take one of the upcoming Coaching Excellence (mentor coaching) classes. You'll dive in deeper, see coaching, practice coaching, all with feedback from an expert Instructor. If you're going for an ICF credential or renewing an ACC, this class will meet those requirements too. 
    • With Richard Lim, PCC from August 2 or 3 (US evenings, Asia mornings)
    • With Julie Jones, PCC from Sept 8 (US mornings, Europe evenings)
    • With Charles Hooper, MCC from Sept 14. (US mornings, Europe evenings)
    The Coaching Excellence mentor coaching process takes 3 full months, so join one of these classes to finish by the end of the year.

    Grace & Peace, 
    --Mo4tGp9ZLponiduYyiY58ozrys3nhG-r_BdBiXqDsiA4buX786V0rs63g9hjz9YsGmLD7ypq1x5WFzBDFHoqoNJ_IB3K_lSGh8bskOL-Hws4sJL_jgZp9c7OAosECgdw4LHYYXIw5vt3G3bV4Y8tI2NtKkG-dE078=s0-d-e1-ft#<a rel=nofollow href=https://gallery.mailchimp.com/846a8172301764247e144ef7d/images/76ae..." width="80" class="CToWUd"/>
    Keith Webb

    P.S. - The next Coaching Mastery Certificate Program is from July 5. It's almost full! 2 more programs begin in September and October. Both are mornings in North America and evenings for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Register early to save $250 and secure your seat. 

    P.S.S. - Coaching Mastery in Chinese begins September 20th. 你也可以透过中文来学习教练技能,并获取 ICF 专业教练认证。广受欢迎的 “精通教练证书课程” 中文版将于 9 月 20 日再次开课!欲知更多详情,可参阅此网页
  • In Luke 10:2, Jesus says,
    “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore
    pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” 
    In Let’s Get Free: Rightly Dividing The Word Of Truth, He instructs—

    Forget About Yourself

    “Forget about yourself. Go out where things are messy and disorganized and sometimes not even well supplied, and do something. See yourself as part of those I’ve called to labor in the harvest. 

    “The visitor who feels uncomfortable in church, the sinner who feels unworthy to approach Me and ask to be forgiven, the out-of-place, misshapen and undesirable people must not escape your notice. Allow your heart to long to bring them into a place of security and peace in Me. Desire that nobody be overlooked.

    “No one is too small or too dirty or too insignificant or too mentally ill or too unintelligent or too unattractive to receive the Gospel. Everybody who doesn’t know Jesus deserves a fair chance to meet Him.”
    Blessings of love, peace and joy,
    Randy Walter
    Shiloh Ministries
    209 West St., Berlin, MD 21811
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