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Perfecting Columbo.

Having established a winsome and persuasive model of engaging others for Christ, Greg Koukl gives some quick tips on how to perfect Columbo.

  1. Try to anticipate future conversations. Imagine the kinds of objections and/or challenges you might receive in these conversations. Then formulate some Columbo questions as responses to these objections.
  2. After you have a conversation, run through the encounter in your mind and think of ways to improve. Ask yourself, “Could I have asked better questions… What were my missteps?”[1]
  3. Practice Columbo. Practice in the form of rehearsing what you might say out loud. Practice with a friend via roleplaying. Practice, practice, practice.

Once you’ve practiced and role-played with a friend, jump into the fray. “Interacting with others is the most effective way to improve your abilities as an ambassador.”[2] You may not feel 100% ready but that’s okay. The best way to learn is to do (and keep doing).

One important thing to watch out for, writes Koukl, are questions that are not really questions. They sometimes start out as, “What gives you the right…?” or, “Who are you to say?” Do not be taken in by such rhetoric; for these are meant to end conversations rather than foster them. Koukl points out that the simplest answer to, “Who are you to say?” is, “the person who has the best reasons… This is the way sound thinking has always worked.”[3] Remember, never use Columbo as a club to beat someone over the head with. Rather, be charitable to the other person and treat him the same way you want him to treat you (Matthew 7:12).

Check back next week for Chapter 7: Suicide: Views That Self-Destruct.

*Greg Koukl is Founder and President of Stand to Reason. Please do yourself a favor and buy his excellent book here!

[1] Greg Koukl, Tactics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009), 90.

[2] Ibid, 92.

[3] Ibid, 97.