How You Present the Gospel Matters

by | Aug 31, 2004 | Purpose & Identity

How we present the gospel may open or close the door to further discussion.

The Bible instructs us to have conversation “seasoned with salt” and to be prepared to speak up for the gospel “in season and out of season” (see Col. 4:6, 2 Tim. 4:2). Christians at times fall into the pattern of imposing the gospel message indiscriminately and gracelessly in all social settings. At other times they are tongue-tied and embarrassed by the challenge of speaking out about “the hope that is within” them when speaking with nonbelievers.

The antidote to the second problem is to get on fire with the Holy Spirit. It then becomes very hard not to tell other people about Jesus.

The antidote for the first is more subtle. It requires us to respect others and take them seriously. Absolutely nobody wants to feel he is merely a statistic, someone who has to be “reached” with the gospel, no matter how crudely or boorishly. If a person does not feel respected, nothing on earth will induce him to listen to an explanation of what Christianity is.

There is a way of answering objections to Christian belief that opens rather than closes the door to further discussion. That way might be called “the way of graciousness.” I saw a magnificent example of that graciousness recently.

At a dinner in my home, I invited two Christian couples and one agnostic and his wife, who has recently reaffirmed her commitment to the Jewish tradition. The two Christian couples both were very mature believers who had read and even written (one was a well-known author) widely about the faith.

As I hovered over the dinner, trying to ensure everything went smoothly (my wife had cooked exceptionally well), I had little chance to participate in the conversation. But I overhead much. What struck me was the exceptional graciousness of our Christian guests in responding to the objections to Christianity voiced by the agnostic and his wife.

Everything seemed to fall into the conversational mix: U.S. policy in Iraq, The Passion of the Christ, Christianity and Islam, the faith of President Bush. Not surprisingly, the criticism of Bush, of the United States’ Iraq policy and of Mel Gibson came fast and furiously from our skeptical guests. But I was struck by the fact that, instead of refuting the two critics head-on, the Christians skillfully deflected the attacks both with references to pertinent facts that modified the criticisms and with patient attention to all the points brought up.

No one ever said, “You’re wrong in saying that!” or impugned the motives of the critics. Above all, what was conveyed was respect for the opinions of our dinner guests and a sense of the pleasure of their company. At the end of the evening the Jewish wife wrote in our guest book that the conversation had been “wonderful!” Her husband was equally effusive.

Were either of these skeptics persuaded by the arguments they heard? Probably not. Were they more disposed on leaving our house to hear more from a contrary (i.e., Christian) point of view? Almost certainly. Each felt honored and esteemed by the other guests in a way that is often quite rare during a conversation in which there is ardent disagreement.

There is surely a lesson here as we Christians attempt, sometimes daily, to engage the culture. It is certain that our manner of presenting the gospel can be even more important than the content of our presentation.

Most of us have heard strident criticism from nonbelievers of some of the programs on Christian television. Without embarrassing any particular Christian broadcaster, can we not admit that some of that criticism is legitimate?

Professions of faith, or even personal testimonies, that are loud and tasteless probably alienate more viewers than they attract to Christianity. And we all probably have been witnesses in person of presentations of the gospel that were arrogantly expressed or needlessly aggressive.

It is often said of actors or speakers that they should leave the stage with their audiences wanting to hear more from them. The same is true of a Christian testimony. Does it incline people to turn away from faith or to want to learn more about it? Our skeptical guests the other night certainly left our home wanting to hear more.


David Aikman is a senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. A former foreign correspondent with Time magazine, he is the founder of a global fellowship of Christians in journalism. Based in Burke, Virginia, with his wife, Nonie.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Kingdom Economics: How Godly Traditions Convey Kingdom Truths

Kingdom Economics: How Godly Traditions Convey Kingdom Truths

Read Time: 3 Minutes 53 Seconds WalletHub estimates 97% of Americans celebrate Thanksgiving and were expected to spend $835 million on Thanksgiving turkeys for last week’s holiday. More than 50 million people were expected to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade on...

The Hidden Antisemitism of Misappropriation of Scripture

The Hidden Antisemitism of Misappropriation of Scripture

Read Time: 4 Minutes 49 Seconds I know that what I am writing in my blog today will cause some people discomfort. Others will become angry and still others will choose to stop reading my blogs and articles. Yet, knowing that there is a danger of the above happening,...

Charisma Highlights: Is Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Heaven?

Charisma Highlights: Is Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Heaven?

Following are snippets of the top stories posted on charismamag.com over the past week. We encourage you to visit the links to read the stories in full. Is Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Heaven? Is it possible that behind the pearly gates of heaven there are...

10 Ways to Practice Gratitude With Your family This Thanksgiving

10 Ways to Practice Gratitude With Your family This Thanksgiving

This month we are entering a season which, in the United States, has been devoted to gratitude and thanksgiving for 400 years! While the Thanksgiving holiday has had a long and varied history within the United States, the practice of devoting sacrificial offerings,...

Don’t Let Ungratefulness Turn You Into a Spoiled American

Don’t Let Ungratefulness Turn You Into a Spoiled American

My frequent trips to developing nations always help me adjust my attitude. Just when I start to feel spoiled and entitled, I meet people from places like Congo, India and Honduras—and I realize just how blessed I am. This happened to me again last week during a trip...

The Power of Being Thankful

The Power of Being Thankful

One of the best ways to show God we love Him is to be thankful. When we express our deep gratitude to Him, it actually invites His presence onto our lives. Being thankful also neutralizes the enemy and brings victory into our situations no matter what the outcome....

Get Off Your Pew!

Get Off Your Pew!

As God’s clock inches closer to the final hour before His return, many people find themselves filled with angst, anxiety and despair. People are not sleeping well, many have fallen into depression and are feeling hopeless. These are the very days that we have been...

RECENT ARTICLES

ORU’s President Dr. Billy Wilson Shares Strategy to Reach 8 Billion for Christ

Read Time: 2 minutes 26 seconds The world population just surpassed 8 billion people and a group of emboldened followers of Jesus have set on a mission to reach the world with the message of...
The Great Commission Can Set Us Free from Responsibility

The Great Commission Can Set Us Free from Responsibility

Read Time: 4 Minutes 28 Seconds While all of the stories we read in the Torah are meaningful, sometimes the events we read about can seem to hold more relevance, especially for those of us who are followers of Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah. One such event is the calling...

The Church’s Role in Preserving Freedom of Speech in America

The Church’s Role in Preserving Freedom of Speech in America

Read Time: 3 Minutes 17 Seconds The controversy surrounding Kyrie Irving and his post of a tweet that claims the Jews in Israel are not the real Jews—that Black Africans are the real Jews—raises serious questions about free speech in America and has ramifications for...

Count Your Blessings, For God Indeed is Good

Count Your Blessings, For God Indeed is Good

Read Time: 4 Minutes 42 Seconds Thanksgiving Day is just a few days away for U.S. Americans. It is a favorite holiday—perhaps only exceeded by Christmas—to gather with family and friends to watch parades, play (American) “football” and eat delicious food—often from...

Is Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Heaven?

Is Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Heaven?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFbfS03JkKY&t=1s Read Time: 3 Minutes, 10 Seconds Is it possible that behind the pearly gates of heaven there are murderers, pedophiles and cannibals walking along the streets of gold? We are taught in the book of Romans, "That if...

Pin It on Pinterest