A Quick Simple Way To Improve At Sharing Your Faith

You're constantly surrounded by and bumping into people who don't know Christ. That person sitting next to you on the plane, in a coffee shop or standing behind you in line at the grocery store. Many of them don't know Christ, and might even be hostile to the gospel. You know you should talk to them about spiritual things, you may even want to, but for this reason or that you don't. Maybe you don't know where to begin or fear you won't be able to handle the objections they might throw out. 

Don't worry, you aren't alone. Most of us have been there at one time or another. I certainly have. 

Your heart's pounding like it'll jump out of your chest at any second, your palms are clamming up with sweat, and your knees are shaking like a leaf in the wind.  Voice trembling all along, you turn and say,

"Hello. I'm Scotty. What's your name?"

"Hi Scotty, great to meet you. My name's Eric."

Now what? You've introduced yourself and engaged them in conversation at the most basic level, but haven't a clue what say next.

"What do you believe about God?" You quickly stammer out.

"God? Only cotton headed ninny muggins believe in that stuff."

"Um...Uh..."

How do you respond? What do you say next? I doubt a real conversation would be this direct, and that the response of an atheist would include a reference to Elf, but it does have a ring of truth to it doesn't it.

We've all been party to or witnessed some awkward version of the above exchange. We mean well, and are willing to step up to the plate, but we haven't the first clue what to do once we get there. Most of the time we don't even get the bat off our shoulder.

Why is that? Don't we have deeply held convictions and reasoned arguments to support what we believe about God, The Bible and reality? Of course we do. The problem is that we don't have a clear, concise game plan. Think about it. Every great success in the world has a plan and works it. They craft it carefully and are ready when the moment strikes. The same is true when it comes to having spiritual conversations, its a pretty good idea to have a game plan. 

Greg Koukl has done the heavy lifting for us. He has carefully and thoughtfully crafted a game plan to help followers of Christ engage the world around them in a wise and gracious fashion. This game plan can be located in his book, Tactics: A Game Plan For Discussing Your Christian Convictions. 

Today, I want to share with you some of the most helpful and insightful aspects of Greg's book. Insights that I hope and pray will help you in your conversations this week, and encourage you to run grab your own copy of Tactics

Let's get down to business and discuss 

1. Leave a stone in their shoe

Greg completely shatters many of the preconceived notions too many of us have when it comes to evangelism. Early on he compels us to start thinking of spiritual conversations in a new light and to readjust our goals from getting to a full on gospel presentation in each and every conversation to "put a stone in someone's shoe". What does this odd but catchy phrase mean? It means leaving the other person with something worth thinking about, something that just gnaws at them in a good way.  

2. Get good at asking questions

By asking carefully selected questions you accomplish several things at the same time. You gain control of the conversation, keep it moving forward and keep things civil. Again the goal isn't to share the gospel in each and every conversation, it is to ask the right question and plant the right seed to get the other person thinking. Questions are one of the best vehicles for encouraging thoughtful dialogue. They are non threatening, friendly, and flattering. People love to share their opinion, its just that so few people ever take the time to ask. 

Question 1: "What do you mean by that?" 

Make them spell out their own view, specifically. In order to have a thoughtful conversation, you need to understand the other person's views. This question helps you gather valuable information on exactly what they think. Instead of staggering through the conversation assuming you know what they mean by this or that, this question is designed to help you get it straight from the horses mouth. You'll be surprised how often you're assumptions are wrong. Better still, you get them to spell it out in exact terms. No more guess work on your part. 

Question 2: "How did you come to that conclusion?"

They've made a claim and presented a view, now its time to make them defend it. It's not your job to refute their claim, it's up to them to prove it. Ask them to explain what has led them to drawing their particular conclusions. Intelligent views have supporting reasons. Make them spell these out. 

3. Plan ahead

There are certain topics that you can reasonably assume will come up as you're out and about. If you sat down for more than 10 mins. you could come up with dozens of objections that will be thrown your way. Get ready for them. If Adrian Beltre knew the next pitch was a fastball down the middle of the plate, you can be certain it'll end up about 20 rows deep. He's flat hit it out of the park. And so should you. Take some time to formulate and practice responses to common objections. This is where modern technology come in handy. Create notes in your favorite note taking app containing common questions, arguments and claims with your responses. That way you have them right there in your pocket everywhere you go. 

No one said evangelism would be easy stuff. Sometimes it leads to some down right nasty encounters. No matter how rude people are, or how poorly we think we've done it, hopefully we'll have left a stone in their shoe that gets them thinking. I have only scratched the surface on the immense help Greg provides in Tactics. It is one of those rare books that becomes a resource you will return to time and again the minute you finish it.   

Hard Conversations

We live in a broken, fallen world full of strife, difficulty and disagreement. We don't always get along with or agree with those around us. Maybe someone has done something that has hurt you financially, emotionally, or otherwise. You might feel bitter and you might be wounded, but things don't have to stay that way. 

Often the conversations you most dread are the ones you most need to have. There is something deep down inside us that knows exactly what we need to do. That feeling of dread or fear may not mean what you have always thought. Those knots in your stomach might not be telling you to run, but just might be confirming what you need to do. Whatever conversation has you scared, run towards it. Sure things could blow up in your face and go badly, but being willing to lean in and engage in tough conversations just might lead to outcomes you've only dreamed of.   

Tough conversations don't have to be negative or destructive. It can actually serve as an opportunity to strengthen your relationships and help you grow as an individual. If for no other reason, lean in and engage those you most fear. It has the potential to completely change everything. If you think about it in these terms, those tough conversations all of a sudden get a whole lot easier. 

Ok, you know you need to have a tough conversation but you aren't sure how. Here are a few quick hits that can help you master the art of the difficult conversation. 

Prepare your heart. This is the most challenging part of any difficult interchange. Before going to the other person pause and take a look at yourself. Search your own attitudes, words and actions. Many times you'll find that you've contributed far more to the relational strife your experiencing than you previously realized. Taking a swim in your own stuff will better prepare you to talk to someone else about theirs.

Be humble. humility looks good on you..jpg

Plan out what you will say. Scripting your conversation may be impractical however, it is extremely helpful to spend some time processing not only what you will say but how you will say it. While the content of your message is important, method and tone are even more so. A helpful way to address tone and method is by how you would like to be confronted. One golden rule that won't steer you wrong is to be humble. A humble attitude smooths over a lot more than you realize. 

Lead With Your Weaknesses

You're not perfect. Whether it's sarcasam, responding out of anger or not delivering on your commitments, you make dozens of mistakes each and every day. The temptation to hide and minimize your mistakes is overwhelming because the first thing you want to do is run as far from them as possible. 

While this is your natural tendency it might not always be the best strategy for responding to failure. Our failures provide us with an opportunity to take giant steps forward and helps us connect with others. Today, I want to encourage you not to run from or hide your failures but to embrace and share them openly. 

Display your authentic self. Openly discussing your short comings and failures knocks down the dividing wall and allows others to connect with you. Whether you are aware of it or not there is a dividing wall between you and those you impact and lead. Often times that wall of division is the gap between who you truly are and others perception of you. The quickest way to shrink this gap is to authentically share your struggles and failures. The fear in doing so is that it will change how people see you. The funny thing is that this fear is 100% true. They will see you differently, just not in the way you fear they will. 

Part of the reason people lean in and see you more positively when you share your struggles is that they can relate. People aren't perfect and they know it. They already know you aren't perfect either and that you make mistakes because you're human. Opening up and leading with your weakness displays confidence not the lack there of. People will follow a leader who doesn't run from his short comings. 

Be known for owning your stuff. The next time you drop the ball or just blow it, seize it for the opportunity that it is and own it. Do far more than acknowledge that you messed up, ask those impacted by your failure to forgive you. Trust me, this is a trait you want to be known for. It displays a humble heart, empowers others and will transform your relationships.