This weekend I had the pleasure of listening to Greg Koukl speak. Koukl is the founder and president of Stand to Reason, a radio talk show host, and the author of Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions (1st Edition by Koukl, Gregory, published by Zondervan, 2009. Paperback).
Knowing absolutely nothing about Greg Koukl beforehand, I signed up for “Training Day” after reading the words:
“Greg Koukl will equip you to share your faith!”
Having struggled greatly with this over my years of being a follower of Jesus, I eagerly anticipated what I would learn. The intent to share my faith is passionately burning inside of me. I desperately long to tell others about our wonderful loving Father and how He mercifully forgives our sins through the payment His son made for us with His own life. The desire is there, but the fear of rejection and chastisement by the receiving party has often left me feeling crippled by defeat before I’ve even begun.
In the forward he wrote for Koukl’s book, Lee Strobel says, “We live in a day when militant atheism is on the march, Christianity is coming under attack, not just from best-selling books, skeptical college professors, and television documentaries, but increasingly from neighbors and co-workers.”
Strobel’s words are the very reason I was finding myself feeling inferior as I thought about evangelism. In my own right, I knew what I believed and why I believed it, and could easily articulate the central truth of Christianity, but the anxiety and fear that crippled me kept me in my own pit of trepidation.
But the words I heard Greg Koukl speak left me thinking about things from a different point of view and took away the pressure that was keeping me feeling trapped with no resolve. Koukl spoke about tactics that allow us to “go on the offensive in an inoffensive way by using carefully selected questions to productively advance the conversation.”
Without giving away what Koukl discusses in his book—because I highly recommend reading it—Koukl encourages believers to take an inquisitive approach, asking questions and drawing others to articulate exactly what their views are. He argues that in using this approach, you are able to stay in control of the conversation and in the “driver’s seat.” It also makes the receiver feel more comfortable because your inquisitive nature, while genuine in understanding their point of view, doesn’t create a combative response that leaves them feeling like they should be drawing out their weapons, ready to attack.
Koukl’s thoughts on approaching evangelism from a conversational perspective that creates relational substance has merit with non-believers. Instead of hearing views they may have heard before, they are much more likely to be open to just engaging in casual conversation without the “Christian talk.”
In her book Not God’s Type: A Rational Academic Finds a Radical Faith, Holly Ordway recalls one of the first conversations that led her to rationally processing her then-atheistic views. She says, “I’d had interesting discussions before, but this one was different right from the start … At that time, I just knew that I felt safe, I knew that I was respected, that neither Josh nor Heidi would try to convert me, so I could let my guard down like I’d never dared to before. They offered no Bible quotes. No sharing of how God had worked in their lives. No appeal to my happiness or peace of mind. What, then? Philosophy. Ideas. Dialogue.”