To Everyone an Answer: Eight Tips for Sharing Your Faith
by Andy Bannister
There’s a common perception in our culture that religious faith is irrational, that people who believe in God do so on the basis of feelings or emotion, not evidence. Atheist Daniel Dennett even goes so far as to compare belief in God with belief in Santa Claus, suggesting that Christians are infantile and simply need to grow up.
A moment’s thought would reveal the problem with that idea. How many people do you know you have come to believe in Santa Claus in adulthood? Yet hundreds of thousands of people become Christians as adults after careful consideration of the facts and evidence. You see “faith” does not mean “believing something for which there is no evidence”. In the Bible the word “faith” is actually a verb: it means to put your trust in something or somebody. And if you are asked you why you have put your trust in God, you should be able to give reasons:
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (1 Peter 3:15)
The phrase “give a reason” is the English translation of the Greek word apologia, from which we get the word “apologetics”. Apologetics is simply the act of giving an answer, a reason, an explanation for why you believe what you believe. The Bible says that every Christian should be able to do this — it’s not optional. But the prospect of being asked why we believe can often make Christians a little nervous — we’re afraid of looking foolish, of not having an answer, even of letting God down. So I’d like to share with you eight tips I’ve learnt over the years that can make apologetics much easier.
Prayer is vital. How should we pray? First, pray for opportunities. Pray that God would bring non-Christians across your path and that he would open up natural opportunities for you to talk about your faith with them. Pray that they would ask you questions, that they would see something about your life that intrigues them.
Second, as you engage in conversations with people, begin praying intentionally for them. Ask God to put the name of particular family members, friends or colleagues on your heart and pray for them every day. Pray for more opportunities to talk with them. Pray that situations would arise in their life that would cause them ask deeper questions.
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Third, pray for wisdom. In John 14:26 Jesus tells his disciples that one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to instruct us and to remind us of Jesus’ own teachings. God asks us to be ready to give an answer for the hope we have and then he promises to give us the resources to do just that. Whenever God calls, he provides.
2. Talk and Listen
One of the most powerful evangelistic tools I know is simply this: talking to people. To most of us, this comes naturally. Learn to be interested in people and their stories. Get to know your friends, neighbours, colleagues and family members better. And as they talk, learn to really listen. Hear what’s being said, what your friend’s concerns, interests and passions are. And as you listen, pray silently, that God would help you find the opportunities to weave the gospel naturally into the conversation.
3. Learn to Ask Good Questions
You may be surprised to learn that apologetics is not primarily about having the right answers, it’s as much about asking the right questions. Questions like “Why do you believe that?” or “Why do you think that?” can be very powerful. If somebody expresses a negative opinion about the Christian faith, gently asking “What’s your evidence for that?” can crack open the conversation. Questions can expose hidden assumptions, shed light on motives, and show whether somebody really believes what they have just said, or if they are just repeating something they heard…