Greg Koukl offers eight tips for effective witnessing

A tactical approach makes Christianity like mixed martial arts
A tactical approach makes Christianity more fun

From Stand to Reason – some excellent tactical advice from a master apologist.

Here’s the setup:

I overheard a conversation on the airplane coming back from my vacation in Wisconsin.  A Christian gentleman was vigorously sharing his faith with a gentleman in the seat directly behind me.  There are some things we can learn, both good and bad, from what I overheard and take his effort—which was a good one—and channel it in a little bit more constructive direction.

So I am going to give you eight points of application.

And here are my favorites from his list:

3.  Try to stay away from religious language, terminology, and religious affect. This person was very religious in his whole approach.  I think this is hard for us as Christians because we are brought up in a Christian environment and it’s natural for us to talk this way, but it sounds weird to people outside of that environment.  I think there are a lot of people who may be, in principle, interested in a bona fide, genuine relationship with God through Jesus Christ but who are not interested in the Christian religion as they perceive it.  This is where I think a lot of the emergent guys have a legitimate bone to pick with Evangelicalism.  Let’s try not to sound like Bible-thumping fundamentalists if we can avoid it, even if that’s what we are, because there’s no need to sound that way if it puts people off.  Find another way to communicate the message.  Just talk in a straightforward manner.  Be conscious of using religious language the other person may not understand or may think is strange.  Avoid all of that so they can hear the message you’re trying to communicate.

4.  Focus on the truth, not personal benefits of Christianity. I appreciated the gentleman’s approach in that he kept talking about truth.  One person he was talking to said he liked reincarnation.  The Christian man said that even if he liked reincarnation that that didn’t make it true if it’s not true.  Liking something is not going to change reality.  That’s a great point.  He was focusing on the truth claims of Jesus.  He wasn’t giving a bunch of promises.  He wasn’t saying, “Jesus is my ice cream.  He’s a great flavor.  Try him to see if you like him, too.”  Or, “Try Jesus because he’ll make your life so wonderful.”  Focus on truth and not personal benefits.

5.  Give evidence. This gentleman was giving all kinds of evidence for his seatmates to consider.  Good for him!  You should too.  You know why?  Because people in the Bible did, too.  Jesus, Paul, Peter, all the Apostles.  If you look at the details of how they communicated their faith they gave evidence for the truth of what they were saying about Jesus.  In fact, if you want to get the content of the Gospel, one of the most famous passages for the articulation of the Gospel is the beginning of 1 Corinthian 15.  Paul gives all kinds of evidence.  It’s all right there as he is explaining the Gospel.  We see that all through the New Testament.  So give evidences.  It’s appropriate.  People do respond to that even in a postmodern age.

I remember that I was once working in Chicago, and after a particular good apologetics discussion with a team of engineers, I apologized to them all for being so exclusive and a fundamentalist. These guys all had MS and PhD degrees in computer science from top schools like Stanford, Purdue, U of I, NIU and Northwestern. They said “you’re not a fundamentalist”. And I said, “but I am ultra-conservative in my theology!”. And they said “That’s ok – as long as you have considered different points of view and you have objective evidence, then somehow it doesn’t sound fundamentalist”.

I think that’s something that we need to work on. When Christianity is about truth, it’s open to investigation using public evidence. At work, I have explained the structure of DNA molecules in the office and had people rolling their chairs out of their cubicles to come and see me draw amino acid chains on a white board, and calculate the probabilities with a calculator. (You have to have the calculator – otherwise the whole thing doesn’t work!). You can be a fundamentalist, without sounding like a fundamentalist. You just have to focus on truth. If the truth out there is fundamentalist, then you can be a fundamentalist.

Look here:

Make religion about truth – not personal preferences. They respect that way of talking – as long as you bring the science and the history. My advice is to study all the physics, astronomy, chemistry, math and biology you can. Study all the new testament and ancient history you can.

More Greg Koukl

3 thoughts on “Greg Koukl offers eight tips for effective witnessing”

  1. In review of the video and the post – I feel something vital is missing.

    Religion – is “mans” attempt to understand God. What generally happens is a organization is formed, committees are formed, buildings are erected, people are sought to join, money is collected, and further administration is constructed to expand and replicate.

    Here lies the problem – GOD IS NOT A RELIGION or a philosophy . He is a person. Any attempts to define “Him” to construct what was just mentioned is absurd and is the cause of wars, hatred, and everything else inbetween (ie catholic vs. protestant).

    History shows “Religion” ALWAYS will murder Gods anointed. That is a well documented fact.

    With that being said the most effective witnessing is “your conduct”. Gibbons pointed this out very clearly in the “The rise and fall of the Roman Empire”. The main reason Christianity wasn’t completely exterminated was due the fact that it took the dregs of society (criminals and the poor ) and turned them into productive members of society.

    Consider the most recent deaths of Mother Theresa and Jerry Falwell. The secular press could not stop saying enough good things about her (despite incorrect doctrine) vs. Jerry Falwell (nothing good and it is in bad taste to speak unkindly of the dead despite “correct doctrine”).

    Out of the two just mentioned – which one completed the commandment given in Matt 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” ?

    This is a effective witness and disciple as commanded by Christ. She denied herself, followed Christ, and EVERYBODY praised God because she gave her entire life. THIS A TRUE WITNESS – IT IS OBVIOUS AND CAN SEEN IN ACTION.

    God is more concerned about righteous behavior ( ie doing the right thing) than western Christianity teaches.

    People see and believe “actual” righteousness vs. “imputed” righteousness ( ie talk is cheap and the scriptures are full of obeying God and doing the right thing – this is what counts).

    Apologetics and knowledge of scriptures provide a proper orientation are necessary to have knowledge to have relationship with Christ but are of no use if the “Saint/Believer/Disciple” doesnt grow and exhibit Christ like behavior internally and externally.


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