How to Share Your Faith With Seekers and Skeptics
- Thursday, April 05, 2012
Editor's note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Alister McGrath's new book, Mere Apologetics: How to Help Seekers and Skeptics Find Faith (Baker Books, 2012).
If thinking about the concept of apologetics (communicating the core themes of Christianity to people who don’t yet have relationships with Jesus) brings to mind worries about getting into defensive or even hostile conversations with people, stop right there. Sharing your faith with others through apologetics doesn’t ever have to be a negative experience.
In fact, apologetics can be an exciting and worthwhile endeavor whenever you approach it in the right way. Jesus calls everyone who follows Him to help communicate the Gospel message in compelling ways, so don’t shy away from your role as an apologist. Here’s how you can pursue apologetics in a positive way to help seekers and even skeptics find faith in Jesus:
Turn your worries into prayers. Yes, the task of communicating the Gospel to people whose souls are at stake is a weighty responsibility. But you don’t need to be worried about the task, because God has promised to empower you to do whatever He calls you to do. So whenever you catch yourself worrying about how inadequate you feel for the task, pray for the help and confidence you need, and God will provide it.
Understand the three parts of apologetics. Apologetics involves defending, commending, and translating your faith. Defending means finding out what barriers people have to coming to faith and answering their sincere questions in caring and thoughtful ways. Commending means communicating the Gospel message in ways that help people see its truth and appreciate its power to change their lives for the better. Translating means explaining Christianity’s concepts in terms that people who are unfamiliar with the faith can best understand.
Get to know your own faith well. Before you can effectively tell others about Christianity, you must know why you personally believe what you believe, and why it’s important to you to follow Jesus. Be prepared to give others reasons for your faith. Keep in mind that when others observe Jesus’ power at work transforming your soul and life, they’ll be drawn to Him themselves.
Get to know your audience well. Make time to learn about the people you’re hoping to reach. What’s important to them, and why? What hopes and dreams do they have? What struggles and concerns do they have?
Find points of contact in people’s lives that can help them relate to the Gospel message. Identify people’s current values and experiences that relate to what the Gospel has to say, and then use appropriate points of contact to bring up the subject of faith in conversations with them. Some of the possible points of contact include: the origins of the universe, how the universe appears to be designed for life, the orderly structure of the physical world, people’s built-in sense of morality and longing for justice, people’s deep sense of yearning for something transcendent (which can only be fulfilled by discovering God), the beauty of nature, people’s fundamental need to exist in relationship with others (and how Christianity is a relational faith), and people’s sense that they were made for much more than just brief lifetimes on Earth (a sense of eternity and the eternal hope that Christianity gives). Talking with people about any of these or other points of contact can help them discover how the Christian faith can help make them sense of their lives.
Present the whole Gospel. Don’t restrict the way you present Christianity to just the parts that you enjoy the most; be sure to faithfully communicate the entire Gospel message – even the parts that may be hard for others to hear (such as the effect of sin on their lives) – and trust that God will help them receive the message.
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