In a previous post, I said that there is always a potential for obstacles in a conversation that can derail your evangelistic or apologetic efforts. All of a sudden you’re chasing rabbit trails, sifting through multiple, unrelated responses, or struggling to answer a misleading question.
Our goal as Christians is to keep the upper hand in any situation in order to defend the faith and spread the Gospel. Here are 3 additional tips that will help you avoid barriers to effective conversations for Christ.
Tip #4: Narrate the Conversation
Oftentimes the person you’re talking to responds to your questions by bringing up an unrelated issue (or multiple issues simultaneously). Once the conversation diverts into unrelated territory, it’s very easy to forget what the original issue was. A good strategy to stay on track during a situation like this is to narrate the conversation back to them.
Sometimes people tell me, “I’ve done more good than bad in my life so I’ll go to Heaven.” This is works-based salvation and entirely unbiblical. Instead of saying that, I’ll ask a question: “How did you come to the conclusion that this is how you get to Heaven?” Sometimes, instead of answering my question, they’ll start talking about all the good things they’ve done in their life. That’s okay to talk about but the problem is: they haven’t answered my question. Sharing stories about the good things they’ve done is not explaining how exactly good deeds get people to Heaven.
In these moments I narrate the conversation back to them. “Just a second ago, you said, ‘I’ve done more good than bad, therefore I’m going to Heaven.’ And then I asked how you came to that conclusion. If you don’t mind, I’m still waiting to hear an explanation.” Now they have the opportunity to get back on track and wrestle with their error.
Tip #5: Not Everyone Deserves an Answer
Don’t waste your time talking to everyone about your faith because not everyone deserves to hear it. At the outset this might seem controversial; that is, maybe I’m saying that Christians should refuse the Great Commission. Actually, I’m not arguing for that. I’m suggesting that we need to discern who is willing to hear the truth and who is not before we fully engage. This comes directly from the Bible.
Proverbs 23:9 says, “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words.” In Matthew 7:6 Jesus agrees with the sentiment: “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Jesus even modeled these commands when He refused to answer the Pharisees (Luke 20:2-8) and Herod (Luke 23:8-9).
In today’s world, scoffers, mockers, and fools do not easily identify themselves, at least not at first (unless they’re online for some reason). Which means we should still engage everyone we meet with conversations for Christ. But once these people identify themselves, the Bible tells us not to waste our time.
Tip #6: Know When to Stop Asking Questions
There comes a time when you should stop asking questions to get people thinking and start giving them the Gospel or explaining why Christianity is true. But how do we know when that is? Simple. When they start asking you questions!
Whenever people were thoroughly engaged with the Gospel in the New Testament, they asked one powerful question: What should I do? (see Luke 3:10, 12, 14, Acts 2:37). Likewise, we should be noting the moment when the person we’re speaking to is asking us questions!
I’m lost right now. What do you think I should do?
I’ve never thought about that. What is the answer?
What am I missing?
Can you tell me more about Jesus?
This is what it looks like, practically, when the sheep hears its Master’s voice (John 10:2). When someone leans into your questioning and sincerely desires more information, stop asking questions and start sharing your faith.
Take heart, friends! If you follow these tips, your conversations for Christ will be much more effective.