We saw in the first post of this series why we should do apologetics. We should do apologetics, because if Christianity is true then it is of infinite importance (CS Lewis)! So if we should do it then how? I’m glad you asked!
The reason you do apologetics should drive the way you do it. You care about your friend, family member, or coworker and you have found something in Christ that you want to share with them. If Christ had not changed your life then you probably wouldn’t even be concerned with apologetics or how to talk to your friends or family about your faith. So take a deep breath, you’re already on the right track!
Motivation. The best way to do apologetics is to always keep your motivation in the forefront of your mind. If your motivation in the conversation changes from that of wanting to share what you have found in Christ, to wanting to win the argument, then its time to table the discussion for another day. As much as I love to debate, and win debates (my mom always thought I’d be a lawyer), you do your friend more harm than good if your motive is to win the debate. Everyone has been around the know-it-all who can’t let it go until the other person concedes victory. You don’t want to be that person, because that turns people off and limits the chance they will be willing to have another conversation with you about your faith. Better to leave things unsaid for another time, then to push the person to a point where they have no desire to talk about Christianity with you again.
It’s Ok Not To Know. Most people are terrified to talk about their faith, because they are afraid they won’t have the answers to their friend’s questions. You’re human, not google. Give yourself a break! The very first time I was confronted with someone else’s questions I had absolutely no idea what the answers were. What did I do? I looked at them and said “That’s a good question. I don’t have the answer right now, but I’ll get back with you next week.” And that’s exactly what I did. I went home, called my Bible teacher from a few years before (I was 14 at the time), asked if we could get together so he could help me get the answers to their questions, and when I went back to youth group the next week I shared what I had learned. You’re not going to know everything. Honestly no one does. Your friend isn’t going to expect you to know everything. What they are going to expect is honesty and sincerity, so don’t try to pull the wool over their eyes. Just table the question and come back to it once you’ve had time to look it up.
Be Interested. Listen. Listen. Listen. Listen 10 times more than you talk. You may think you know what you friend is going to say, you may think you know what question they are going to ask. Listen anyways. And then ask clarifying questions. Most people don’t really know what their objection to Christianity is. They will throw out a ton of questions rapid fire, not waiting for a response before the next one is presented. Or they’ll interrupt your answer with another question. If you encounter any of this, ask clarifying questions and sit back and listen. Let the other person talk themselves out and then ask some more questions to clarify. Usually the first thing the person asks is the least important question they have and the one that shows up 3o mins later through some random twists and turns is actually the one that has them tied up in knots.
It’s About Relationship. I’ve met people who had a whole host of scientific and philosophical questions or objections prepared for me, but when it came down to it, their reasons for not believing were very personal. People don’t spill their guts to strangers. We’re all like that. When we meet someone new we never share the deepest parts of ourselves with them. That kind of exposure takes trust and trust takes time. A person’s reasons for not having a relationship with their creator are very personal to them. Take the time to build the relationship and the conversations will be much more fruitful.
Be Flexible. Which type of apologetic argument you will use in any given conversation will vary depending on the person with whom you are speaking and the particular conversation. Keep in mind that there are not cookie cutter answers, nor should you always give an argument verbatim, as each person’s struggles are different and you’ll need to listen to their heart and concerns before trying to answer their questions. In the variety of conversations I have had with non-believers I have never used the same argument in the same way twice. Different people will have different concerns or questions and understanding what their stumbling block is will allow you to tailor your response to their particular need. Regardless of who you are speaking with, having some answers to each of the types of arguments should be enough to get you started in the right direction and we’ll cover the types next week so stay tuned!