Sometimes when people think about apologetic's and sharing their faith they get upset and don't feel like they can defend the Bible. Margaret Manning Shull is with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and shares the idea of conversational Evangelism.
She says she believes the key to sharing our faith with people is getting to know them. Everybody wants to tell their story. Sometimes when people ask apologetic questions like, "I don't understand this part of the Bible" or "I am upset by what this church did"
There is always a story behind that question and we need to get to the story before we defend faith. People want to be heard and they want to be known. They want to know you are not just out to make another convert. They want to know that you love and care for them and are interested in them. Conversational apologetics is a way of doing that. There is always a questioner behind the question.
We need to get to know people and to love people and to get to know them and get rid of some of those barriers and boundaries that have come up through experiences, teachings, and all kinds of things. So they can come to know Jesus through someone caring for them and loving them.
People are scared to even initiate a conversation. Faith is such a personal thing and people don't know how to bring it up or start. How do you bring it up? We have some kind of overlap with each person in our lives, something that we both like. The Arts is a big way people connect. Connect through common interest and build the bridge.
Did you see that movie?
What did you think about this?
What questions did that raise for you? Did it raise any questions for you?
In the process of building relationships, sharing meals is a great way to connect. As you share and hear peoples story you can find ways to ask questions that don't necessarily get at faith right away but provide avenues where those questions of faith will come up.
Food is such a connection point. A lot of people now are into eating local, sustainable and organic. So if you are talking about food and sustainability you could say,
"Did you know Jesus spends lots of time eating and drinking in the gospels? That was one of His favourite things to do. Isn't that amazing?
To come into it even from something as simple as that. Or talk about why do we care about sustainability, why is it important. Why is buying local important to you? What does that mean to you? What does that have to do with the stewardship of creation? Why should we be good stewards? You can do it in the context of a natural open relationship. You start to explore what's important to you.
Do we approach this issue differently with our family? A lot of us feel we can be more open with our friends. Family dynamics can be interesting. We need to be gentle and sensitive. Our family really sees us for who we are, but also hopefully they see how we have been transformed. Perhaps there are different ways to go about things. Share a book that has helped you, maybe read it together. No matter who it is, they need to know that your care about THEM as a person. They need to know you are going to care about them whether or not they accept faith. We don't save anyone that is the work of the Holy Spirit.
People are afraid they are going to get asked a question that they don't know the answer to. Margaret says there is nothing wrong if you don't know the answer or even if you don't know where you yourself stand yet. You can respond by saying,
"You know I haven't really spent the time necessary to unpack that question or to think about that question. May I go and research it and get back to you?"
People will actually respect that. Sometimes Christians come off like they know every answer and that's not the case. Showing someone that they are worth the time for you to research and find an answer is important.
someone says that's true for you, but it's just not true for me? Is that a
conversation killer? You could say,
"I respect where you are at right now, but can we continue this conversation, and can we explore a little bit more about why you've come to that conclusion. Let's see if it still makes sense."
As you back them up and they can explore their own worldview and assumptions that perhaps they have assumed blindly. For some people you have to stop the conversation for that day but there are always ways to continue that conversation.
Where can people start if they are still scared? Not everybody is a speaker or a presenter. That's not the way in which they best use their gifts or offer service in terms of witnessing. You need to know what your gifting is. For some it is acts of service or works of love or ways they come in and care for someone that shows the love of Christ. It doesn't have to be the same way to share Jesus. Many ways we can love someone to represent Jesus. It can be as easy as having conversations and getting to know another person.
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