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PRE-EVANGELISM CONVERSATION STRATEGIES

By Dr. Dave Geisler


What to do

Type of Inconsistencies

Step 1:
- Listen carefully to
determine where they are
coming from
- Hear the sour notes
people are singing to us
- Seek for clarification

Belief vs Heart Longing


They believe one thing but their
heart longs for something else

Ask yourself:
- What do they believe?
- What worldview
framework do they hold?
- What do their hearts
long for that Jesus can
provide?
- What are the sour notes
that I hear?
- What are the
inconsistencies in their
viewpoint?

Belief vs Belief
One belief is inconsistent with
another belief

Belief vs Behaviour
What they believe is different from
how they behave

Illogical Beliefs
The statement they make is not
meaningful (e.g. there are absolutely
no absolutes)

Examples
A Buddhist understands that once he or she is
reincarnated, there is no longer any I that
survives the reincarnation. Yet in their heart
they realize that to lose their sense of self is
not very fulfilling.
A Buddhist realizes that the main goal in
Buddhism is to stop desiring, yet they cannot
live/behave as though they have no desires in
life. E.g. win the lottery, love their children etc.
A Buddhist believes he or she should show
respect to their dead ancestors, yet their
religion teaches that they are not to desire
anything.
An atheist/free thinker believes that God does
not exist. Yet they have difficulty living their life
without believing in non material things such as
truth, love and beauty

Ask them:
- I think I understand.
What you are saying is.
Is that right?

An extreme postmodernist believes there are


absolutely no absolutes (there is no metastory)
A Muslim believes that his good deeds must
outweigh his bad deeds to get to heaven. Yet
many may not pray even five times a day.

What to Do
Step 2:
Help people surface the
truth for themselves by
asking questions

Types of Questions to Ask


Ask them questions
- that uncover the meaning of
unclear terms
- that surface their uncertainties
- that expose false beliefs
Determine the impact of your
question by asking yourself whether
it
- surfaces doubt (uncertainty)
- minimizes defensiveness
- creates a desire (curiosity) to hear
more
Remember to focus on those standout inconsistencies rather than
pointing out all inconsistencies.
Further amplification:
- What do you mean when you say.?
- How is it possible..?
- Ask yourself, what is the one key
question that could surface some
doubt about their current beliefs?
- Ask yourself, am I asking the
question in a way that will make it
difficult for them to get defensive
right away?
- Ask yourself, am I ending the
spiritual dialogue in a way that they
might be willing to continue the
conversation later or even hear
more what Im saying about Jesus?
- Ask yourself, what is one key thing
I can focus on that could unlock
openness for further dialogue?

Examples of Questions
What do you mean when you say you are an
(atheist, freethinker, agnostic)?
How is it possible for all religions to be the
same when some of them contradict each
others beliefs?
How do you hold to (belief A) and at the same
time hold to (belief B)?
How can Jesus be merely a man when he lived
a sinless life, fulfilled prophecy, and gave
evidence for his resurrection from the dead?
I am curious, why do you need Jesus to save
you if you can measure up?
How do you fit Jesus into your religious
beliefs?
Do you know what Jesus taught about the
issue of desire that Buddha was so concerned
about?
Can you think of any natural way to explain the
fact of the empty tomb and et believe that
Jesus was just a man, as many claimed?

What to Do

Two Types of Barriers

Step 3:
Uncover their real barriers to the gospel (i.e.
dig up their history and find out how they
came to be where they are in their beliefs?
Ask yourself:
- What is their biggest barrier to the Christian
faith?
- Is the issue a real concern or is it a smoke
screen?
- Is the barrier intellectual or emotional or
both?
- What is the specific emotional baggage they
are carrying?
- Is there an issue or question behind the
question raised?
- What would motivate them to get answers?
- Is there a volitional barrier?
To surface their history and baggage:
- ask clarifying questions
- do content reflection
- ask thought provoking questions
- ask questions that surface false beliefs or
distortions about the concepts/theological
principles
- use illustrations

Obstacles in their
understanding of Christianity
- thinking there is no difference in
religious beliefs (pluralism)
- not understanding the nature of
sin
- not understanding that salvation
is by grace and not by works
- reconciling the problem of evil
with the existence of God
Obstacles in their embracing of
Christianity
- feeling negative toward
Christians because they think they
have the only way to God
- being indifferent towards
anything of a religious nature
- believe that Christianity is a
western concept and should have
no place in an eastern culture
- hypocrisy among Christians
- being overly concerned with
making a living and acquiring
material possessions

Examples of Uncovering
Questions
So what you are saying is
If you could know the truth
about religious issues, would
you want to know about it?
Out of all the questions you
have about Christianity, what
is that one question that is
right now keeping you from
embracing Christianity?
What is thethat you are
unaware of or confused
about?
What do you consider is the
biggest obstacle in your
religious tradition (Buddhist,
Hinduism, Islam) that would
keep you from embracing
Christianity?
If I could answer your
question in a way that would
make sense to you, would
that help you to seriously
consider Christianity?

What to Do

Further Amplification

Examples of Bridge-Building Questions

Step 4:
Build a positive case for Christ and look
for opportunities to invite them to trust
Him

We are to find that point of


intersection between our
beliefs and theirs

Concerns about wrong desires


Is it possible that our focus should not be
on giving up our desire but on having the
right desire? Jesus said Blessed are those
who hunger and thirst for righteousness
(Mat 5:6)

Ask yourself:
- What is the right balance in your
approach (objective evidence vs
subjective experience)?
- Where can you find common ground in
your discussion (i.e. where do your
beliefs and theirs intersect)?
- What is your strategy for building a
bridge that uses planks of common
understanding (i.e. head/heart bridges)?
- What are the types of conversations
that would lead to open doors to transit
to spiritual things?
- What do you need to keep in mind in
building your bridge and yet not lose
sight of the goal?

These planks can be built


on common
understanding, even of
things that they are not
quite aware of
Do they need to see
evidence of Christs power
manifested first in how I
live my life or do they need
to understand how
miraculous Jesus life is
and how unique He is
compared to other
religious leaders?
Have anyone ever
explained to you the
difference between do
versus done?

Examples of Head Bridge


Did you know that Buddha claimed to point
to the way and Mohammed claimed to be a
prophet of God but Jesus Christ is the only
major religious leader who ever claimed to
be God who fulfilled prophecy, lived a
sinless life and then died on the cross and
rose from the dead?
If you were coming to the end of your life,
and you meet Jesus and other great
religious leaders and each one suggested
a different path, whose advice would you
take? Wouldnt you take the advice of
someone whos been to the other side and
came back to tell us about it?
Example of Heart Bridge
If you had chance between having a
relationship with a God who created you
and wanted you to see Him as your loving
Father or a relationship with an impersonal
God or one who you could never be sure of
His love and concern for you, which one
would you choose?