As Christians, we are called to proactively engage the world around us and be ready to give an answer for the hope that we have. But we don’t always know how to communicate our faith to others effectively.
Dr. Jeremiah Johnston reviews five engagement principles from his book to help us learn how to interact with people who don’t share the same faith as we do.
Don’t go beast-mode.
Do you ever find yourself spending hours of your time and energy trying to win an argument with someone? Dr. Johnston says it may be time to find a new approach to communicating.
“So many of us can be beast-mode Christians and sometimes we just want to win an argument, instead of win a soul, and it’s important we don’t do that.”
Instead of interjecting our thoughts and trying to get our point across all of the time, we are actually more effective when we take a step back and listen to what the other person is saying.
Shut up and listen.
By listening, we will have a much better understanding of where the other person is coming from and grow our witness. Dr. Johnston expands,
“I was in a really important meeting the other day and someone kept checking their phone. It was so offensive to me and I could tell they weren’t listening. I think it’s important in our witness that we learn how to close our mouth and just simply listen.”
Be cool, thought leader.
“The more you know the more relaxed you should be. Let the other person talk, let them unload, and then simply insert godly, biblically-centric answers.”
Asking questions that search beneath the surface is a great way to invite people into a faith dialogue with us.
“People respond so much better to a question than an assertion and I think it’s so important that we stay curious.”
Avoid island fever.
We aren’t called to keep our faith to ourselves; we are called to share it with others. Dr. Johnston reminds us to look at Jesus’ example.
“Don’t let your faith isolate you. Look, I get it! I want to be around fellow believers, I don’t want to be with publicans and sinners and yet Jesus was – He was a friend of sinners.”
“Someone is not going to walk up to you in a supermarket or at a hardware store and say, ‘Hey can you tell me why Jesus is the hope of the world?’ That’s never happened to me, it’s only happened in relationship and so we need to seek out relationships with ‘sinners’ which we all are, but with people who are outside the faith.”
By practicing these engagement principles, we will learn how to effectively engage the world around us and reach people with the undeniable love of Christ.
Dr. Jeremiah Johnston is a New Testament scholar, apologist, and sought-after speaker at universities and churches. He completed his doctoral residency in Oxford and received his Ph.D. from Middlesex University.Rules of engagement