Do you struggle to engage in meaningful conversation with people who hold different views to you?
I don’t mean telling them what you believe. I mean genuinely understanding and engaging with what they believe, and why they believe it.
Christian apologist, Gregory Koukl, makes this observation:
“There are plenty of resources that help Christians understand what they believe and why they believe it — and certainly those are vitally important. But it’s equally crucial to know how to engage in a meaningful dialogue with a skeptic or a person from another religious viewpoint.”
His book, “Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions“, provides much needed and thoroughly practical help for Christians to engage in these discussions.
Koukl has a modest goal for these conversations – not conversion, but disruption:
“It may surprise you to hear this, but I never set out to convert anyone. My aim is never to win someone to Christ. I have a more modest goal, one you might consider adopting as your own. All I want to do is put a stone in someone’s shoe. I want to give him something worth thinking about, something he can’t ignore because it continues to poke at him in a good way.”
In short, Koukl’s approach is to ask questions:
“…never make a statement, at least at first, when a question will do the job.”
This is so effective because as Koukl says “Many people have never thought through their views and don’t know why they hold them.”
This has certainly been my experience. I’m sure you’ve noticed how common it is after someone dies for the remaining friends and family to make comments such as:
The other reason this questioning approach is so useful is that by asking questions we clarify what the other person actually believes, rather than what we think they believe. We can then engage with their actual beliefs, rather than beliefs we’ve assumed they hold.
10 Questions You Can Ask
Koukl’s book is excellent, and I highly recommend reading it in full.
For now, here are some questions, drawn from Tactics to help you engage with the beliefs of others.
Each of these questions provides an opportunity to understand and engage – without the need to make a statement.
Of course, you should be ready and willing to give reasons for what you believe and why, but Christians aren’t the only ones who need to be able to explain their worldview.
When The Discussion Gets Personal
Koukl also suggests a couple of helpful tips for when the discussion gets personal.
Firstly, when people ask you for your beliefs and you’re not sure if you’re being set up for intolerant ridicule, you could say:
“You know, this is actually a very personal question you’re asking. I don’t mind answering, but before I do, I want to know if it’s safe to offer my views. So let me ask you a question: Do you consider yourself a tolerant person or an intolerant person on issues like this? Is it safe to give my opinion, or are you going to judge me for my point of view? Do you respect diverse points of view, or do you condemn others for convictions that differ from your own?”
Secondly, if the discussion turns away from reasoned argument to personal attack, you could say:
“I’m a little confused about your response. Even if you were right about my character, could you explain to me exactly what that has to do with this issue?”
We recommend his website, Stand to Reason. And here’s Koukl in conversation with Deepak Chopra:
On June 23-24, David Robertson will be one of our guest speakers at Onward.
This talk from a conference in Scotland is an excellent introduction to David and encouragement to be courageous in our witness to the risen Lord Jesus.
Here’s a quote to spur you on today:
“The biggest problem in evangelism is not the world out there - it’s that we’ve lost confidence...Once you believe that the gospel works, there’s nothing that will stop you communicate that gospel.” - David Robertson
Join us at Onward - find out more here: http://onwardevent.com/
KCC is pleased to invite Kanisha Raffel as a guest speaker for Onward 17. Raffel will be speaking in the Adults and Young Adults program both held on Saturday 24 June.
Raffel is a well known preacher and social commentator and currently serves as the Anglican Dean in Sydney. He was born to Sri Lankan parents in London, and emigrated to Australia in 1972. He grew up as a practicing Buddhist, and converted to Christianity in his 20s after conversations with a friend who encouraged him to read about Jesus in the gospels.
You can listen to his conversion story here:
According to Raffel, the claim that 'Jesus is the truth' is a big statement in our culture. In this video he explains why Christians can be labelled as 'Intolerant' if they hold this view in Australia:
Through a mix of short talks and Q&A, Onward 17 will directly address some of the cultural issues facing Christians in secular Australia and equip delegates with confidence in God's truth, wisdom for Christian living, and courage to engage with people on hard issues and pushback.
For tickets or more information visit the Onward website: www.onwardevent.com
In 2017, Katoomba Christian Convention will be hosting three one-day events, in a convenient Sydney location at the Sydney Olympic Park. The events exist to serve delegates who are time poor and hungry for encouragement from God's Word.
Onward - 23/24 June
Onward is a brand new convention that seeks to directly address some of the pressing cultural issues facing Christians today. Speakers will examine how Christians confront ‘Tolerance’ in light of absolute truth and our need to bear witness to Jesus Christ.
For tickets visit the Onward website: www.onwardevent.com