I know a story about a Christian who was being harassed by an atheist for her beliefs. After the atheist gave some compelling reasons for his disbelief in God, the Christian replied, “Good, we’re both believers then.” The atheist, quite shocked by that statement, asked the Christian what she meant by calling him a believer. The Christian went on to explain, “Look, since we both have strong reasons for our beliefs, why don’t we sit down and talk about them.”
Score one for the Christian. She managed to come up with a discussion-starter instead of a discussion-stopper. Most, if not all, typical evangelical strategies end up stopping the show. We are full of answers, and we can’t wait to drop them like bombs on unsuspecting unbelievers. We are proud of answers that leave no room for ambiguity, but these “answers” are more of a hindrance to faith than a help. We are not in a contest; we are on a journey together, pointing towards Christ.
It’s the conversation we want, not the conclusion. There is too much “end of discussion” in evangelical witnessing models. We don’t want the discussion to end; we want the discussion to go on. The discussion is the whole point. It is out of discussion that relationships are born, and it will be you, not the correct answers, that will draw people to the Lord. Who wants to be right and all alone? Better to be not sure, but in good company, loving people and pointing them to Christ.
So therefore we want to become good at open-ended questions along with finding common ground. Questions that spark discussion. The one at the top of this page is a perfect example: “Since we both have strong reasons for our beliefs, why don’t we sit down and talk?” The common ground is that we all believe something; the invitation is to find out what that is.