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Relearning How to Talk about Jesus

When I was much younger I learned how to tell people about Jesus. I had five or six different strategies. Each approach ended with me asking the person, “Would you like to ask Jesus to come into your heart?”

About fifteen years ago I realized more and more people looked at me with a blank stare when I asked the question.

They didn’t have a clue what I was asking them to do. I could just as easily have asked them if they wanted to join a cult.

Jesus and the church had no impact upon their lives. Why would they want Jesus?

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ then it is time to accept that you are in the minority. If you attend church regularly, then you are in the minority.

It is true that polls always report large percentages of the U.S. population as “believing in God” or “being Christian” or “attending church.” However, research demonstrates people often exaggerate their responses on those polls.

Many other studies confirm that church attendance, participation in religious activities, and even belief in Jesus are on the decline.

What should followers of Jesus do?

Some like to take the approach often used when speaking to a person who doesn’t speak your language. You have seen this, haven’t you? People will raise their voices and talk louder trying to communicate to a non-English speaking person.

We often do the same thing when we try to communicate Jesus to people.

Speaking from our confidence in the truth of what Jesus has to offer people, we keep speaking louder and more dogmatically and attempt to drown out any resistance. If someone refuses to listen or agree, we “puff up” and get louder and more firm in our convictions.

We dismiss atheists. We smirk at people we judge inauthentic in their faith. We become angry at the way Chrisitanity is no longer offered a privileged place in our culture.

We need to relearn how to talk about Jesus. Here are some basic hints for changing how we talk about Jesus.

First, talk about Jesus. 

Most conversations spiral down into what we believe about Jesus. Christian disagreement about the right way to follow Jesus gets in the way of the real Jesus.

Talk to people about Jesus. Tell the stories of Jesus. Do not interpret the stories, just share them. Let Jesus speak for himself.

Second, be comfortable with disbelief and skepticism.

Jesus experienced it. You will experience it, too. Every conversation about Jesus does not represent an opportunity to win an argument. Every conversation should be an opportunity to get to know someone.

Embrace and respect the disbelief and skepticism of others.

Third, be patient about introducing Jesus. 

More people have no interest in religion and no clue about Jesus. Many people that know about Jesus have a bad caricatured image of him.

It may take time to introduce Jesus to them and help them climb over the debris of all the bad examples they have experienced.

Again, just tells Jesus stories, be comfortable with disbelief, and be patient.

It may be a new way for you to talk about Jesus, but it is the one that will help you have great conversations with people who know nothing about him.

How do you talk about Jesus? Do you meet people that know nothing about him? Have you tried talking to them about Jesus?

 

  • Mike Young

    Good post! I think many of us preacher types need to revisit the Jesus stories ourselves. That is not meant as an accusation. I’m not sure we know how to “let Jesus speak for himself” having been so conditioned to defend our theological views (or hide them).

    • darrell

      Thanks, Mike! We become so caught up in telling folks what the Jesus stories mean that we forget to listen to them.

  • keepitfairall

    What happen to the series on the threats to the church? Did I miss them. This is a great post.

    • darrell

      No, this is the first of those posts. I set it aside to rethink how I wanted to say these things.

      Thanks for noticing that I didn’t put them up. They are coming now.

      Thanks for reading!

  • lebderm

    I have found that many of the atheist I talk to are genuinely interested in why someone believes in a being that can’t be proven with physical proof.

    • darrell

      Yes, conversation is so helpful. We need to learn how to talk with people and not at them. Good conversation involves really listening to the other person. I have found people who disagree with me will listen to me if I really listen to them.

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