In Matthew 11:16 Jesus said "Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves" (ESV). Such a picture shows the adversarial nature that the Christian worldview faces. So, to be wise, we want to make sure we are planning on how to be more effective in having intelligent conversations. It's with that in mind that I want to offer eight tips for sharing and defending your faith to others. These techniques are ones I use all the time and they have been proven to be effective in real-world encounters with others. I'll spend the next couple of weeks going through each, so be sure to come back every day and follow the entire thread.
Many times Christians want to get to the "punch line" too soon!The first tip is a crucial one because it's a mistake I see Christians make all the time: they go too fast. I've seen so many people who are talking with non-believers and they will jump straight from the question of "Are you a Christian?" to "You must recognize you're a sinner and Jesus came to save you." That's a big leap for someone who isn't familiar with the Christian concepts of the fallen nature of man or redemption. Heck, the person may not believe in the Bible, or that Jesus was even a real person! Christians can be too anxious to "get to the Gospel" when significant groundwork may need to be laid first.
So, my first tip is simply slow down. When Paul visited the synagogues during his missionary journeys, we see that he would sometimes spend weeks discussing why Jesus is the Messiah, and those people already accepted the ideas of God, the Old Testament Scripture, their sinfulness, and the need for a Messiah to come. The Christian today doesn't know if the one with whom they're speaking holds to any of those things.
It's hard to change beliefsRemember that when you are discussing Christianity with another, what you are really doing is asking that person to change his or her beliefs. As I've written before, that's not an easy task. No one can force themselves to believe anything. Beliefs change only through the exposure to new evidence or experiences or seeing a contradiction in the belief itself. That means it takes time and purpose to provide new ideas and explore existing beliefs the other person holds. Before you launch into a case for your own view, here are a few questions you should ask yourself to make sure you properly understand the other person's position:
What does this person actually believe? Do I have it right?
- Why do they believe that way? Is this an emotional rather than intellectual position?
- What do they know and what are they assuming?
To see all the posts in this series, click here.