Today, I want to break down five very practical tips when it comes to engaging others in worldview/theology/evangelistic conversations. Many Christians have questions around not only what to say, but also how to say it well in the multitudes of scenarios which arise. Let’s get started!
- Be Purposeful
This one is important, even though we might think it to be a bit elementary. Have you ever noticed how 1 Peter 3:15 begins? The verse says, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” The reason we do everything (and I do mean everything) is for the honor of Christ. Therefore, when we engage in intense conversations with others, whether it be someone who is lost or a person who is saved but needs correction in a portion of their theology, we must do so by understanding the concept of honoring Christ. Everything we say and do in the discussion should never divert from this end goal. We should conduct our discussions with others as though Christ is watching, because He is!
2. Be Inquisitive
I cannot tell you how many times asking a good question has saved me in a serious conversation. If someone makes a comment that seems nonsensical, just ask them about it. For example, if someone says they don’t believe in absolute truth, then ask something like, “the only thing you hold to be true is the fact there are no absolutes? Am I understanding your position correctly?” Be sure to ask it in a gentle tone with genuine concern to understand the person. This step will allow you to then address that specific individual in the best way according to Scripture. By understanding what someone means and asking questions for further clarification, you can then give them more proficient answers because you comprehend their exact problem. Not only does it give you time to think if you need it, this action will also allow you to listen to the other person and help them to the best of your abilities. Listening is a key step to undertaking these conversations well. Plus, asking questions has the added bonus of making the other person think deeper, which can cause the light bulb to come on, illuminating the falsehoods they may be promoting.
3. Be Precise
Precision, it is a great concept that we need more of in our modern times. If preaching has taught me anything, it has taught me the power of the best word being used at just the right moment with the absolute most prolific delivery. It isn’t accidental when a great preacher uses just the right word, it is intentionality. The distinction between a good word and the best word is all the difference in the world. In the same way, we must be precise when we are engaging others in theological conversations. Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” Communicating in a precise and accurate way means that you are going to have to be aware. You must be aware of what the other person says and how they react, but you must also be aware of what you need to say and the best way to say it. We need to be precise. Don’t settle for saying something that decently fits the situation, take the extra second, and say what is the absolute best.
4. Be Controlled.
Self-control, it is one of the fruits of the Spirit and something we must exhibit in our lives. What does this have to do with engaging others in serious conversations? That’s simple, when they get irate, you don’t. You maintain control and keep your composure. Remain steady, don’t make straw man arguments, and absolutely do not berate your opponent. They are not the ball to be pounded with your baseball bat! Instead, maintain boldness with the truth while being respectful and gentle. You stay courageous but do so in a way which accords with godliness. Staying controlled will also allow you to be more precise, as we mentioned a little bit earlier. When you lose your temper you won’t be able to choose the best words most of the time, but when you stay composed and don’t get irate, you will be able to think clearer.
5. Be Humble
I have found that a lot of folks shy away from engaging Christians about theology and engaging unbelievers with the Gospel because they believe they won’t know what to say. They succumb to the fear they might get asked a question to which they don’t know the answer. Let me reassure you, you will be asked a question to which you do not know the answer, and you will not know what to say in some situations. You are not God, you do not have infinite knowledge, and that’s ok because, to put it simply, you were created to be a creature! So, be humble enough to go out anyway and continue to grow your knowledge. If you don’t know the answer, then say what you should in any type of conversation, “I don’t know.” That is a perfectly acceptable answer, and if you are having a hard time figuring out what to say, then just ask a question of the other individual for clarification. It will give you more time to think, and it will help you understand them better. But, be humble enough to recognize you are not going to be perfect, and don’t let that fact stop you from engaging others with the truth of Scripture. Certainly, you need to study, learn, and grow, but none of us will ever know all there is to know. So, we have to go out, understand that fact, and do what we have been called to do, which is to declare the truth of Christ.
I hope that these tips will be a helpful guide for you as you engage others in serious conversations. It is not by any means an all-inclusive list but will prayerfully serve to give you a foundation for thinking about this subject and undertaking worldview conversations with proficiency. May you and I be blessed with wisdom as we conduct such discussions for the glory of our Lord!