Monday, February 13, 2006

Home Base

The recent post about homosexuality and how to talk to people who don't believe the way we do got me thinking.

How in the world are we supposed to convince anyone who doesn't believe in God that He exists?

The fundemental issues are how we show the Bible to be true and from God, God exists, and Jesus lives.

Is it harder or simpler than this?

Jesus told us to preach the Gospel (good news) to every living creature. Is it really that simple?


Diana said...

I've thought about that many times, being surrounded by MANY people who don't believe I do.

Our church elders are big about having open Bible study with unbelieving folks. The problem with that is that you can't open the Bible and say "see it says it right here" if someone doesn't believe the Bible is the word of God. To them, it's just a book someone wrote and everyone took it seriously.

In those situations, there's not much you can do but set a good example.

I speak from experience of being the person on the opposite and this end of the evangelizing. I remember what it was like first coming to church with Charlie; having had several bad run-in’s with religion. It was the people who were kind and patient with me, even though I was different than them, that made me see that Christianity was so much more than the experiences I had had with it. Back then, it didn’t matter to me what the Bible said, I didn’t believe in the Bible. What mattered is how people treated me.

Next year, we’re having what they’re calling “Campaign Myrtle Beach.” It’s just a way to get us out in the community, not afraid to share what we know. I’ll tell you guys right now, I go around telling everybody I’m Christian. In the back of my mind, though, I always hope they don’t ask questions, because I’m still not as mature as I’d like to be for those conversations. Hopefully this Campaign will change that! 

bigsip said...

Wow! That's fantastic, Di.

You really have a great insight as a new Christian.

I think it's sad that many outside of Christianity have a view that Christians are egotistical, overbearing, jerks.

Most of the time, the Christians themselves are doing it to themselves. Of course, people like Bill O'Reilly sure don't help!

I hope the MB Campaign is a huge success! It sounds like y'all have a good plan!

Diana said...

>>I think it's sad that many outside of Christianity have a view that Christians are egotistical, overbearing, jerks.

I think that's sad too. I used to feel that way until I met real Christians!!

Thanks, Sip! You're encouragement is always appreciated!

bigsip said...

You're welcome, Di.

There's a lot to be said for being nice to people.

I'm all for being genuine, as you all know too well, but people can be genuine and nice, too.

bigsip said...

BTW, Di, I think your idea about being nice to people is great!

I do think we have to go the extra step, though.

As far as the Gospel message goes, how would you all fill in this blank?

The Gospel message is ____________.

If we're to preach the Gosple to every living creature, we need to know what the Good News is!

What is it?

Jamison said...

i heard this sort of thing alot in my church back home... i was visiting back home and was in a class and all these adults were going on and on about how we need to be a good example...

i raised my hand and read the great commision, except I replaced the words "preach the gospel" and "baptizing" with "Be a good example" and "Be nice to people". and said thats not what the Bible says we need to do to save people. Sure, it is step one, but these people older than me sounded like they were taking the lazy way out...

incidently, that church has gone from 500 members to 100 maybe.

bigsip said...

But, what's the Gospel?

Is it "For God so loved the World that He sent His only begotten Son that whomsoever believes on Him shall not perish, but have eternal life"?

If so, how do we get that point across to anyone who has no frame of reference as to who Christ really is?

I guess that's what has always perplexed me.

Rachel said...

Another difficulty: most people don't feel the need to be saved if they don't believe they're lost.

bigsip said...

Yeah, I guess that's sort of what I'm getting to realize.

Goes back to the parable of the "soils".

Some folks have good soil and some don't.

But, is the Good News made up of something other than simply Christ and Him crucified?

Is there some way to get through to people?

Does our example and attitude make people want to be like us?

Perhaps an eclectic approach is merited?

Diana said...

I think everyone has their own style to evangelizing. I really don't think there's one right way, just like there's no one right way to teaching children how to read.

bigsip said...

Yeah, but also like teaching, there are plenty of wrong ways.

I'm just wondering what works best...

Brewster said...

That's just it, there isn't a single way to convert people. People are amazingly different. It takes different methods and styles and approaches. Sometimes its also timing.

I think atheists come in two categories.

The first are atheists by default. Their parents were atheists and so they are. There isn't really any hard (dis)belief, but its just the way they were raised and they've stuck with it.

for these guys I think it comes down to showing them kindness and love. Then letting them see that that love comes from God. Then you can get into jesus and all that.

The others I'll call intellectual atheists. These are folks who have contemplated the question of where we come from and have come to a conclusion there is no god.

I would come to these guys with intellectual reasoning (like Paul did with the Athenians) You usually won't get far with them, but when you do you havea great force on our side.

bigsip said...

So, two ways would be the 1. kindness and love approach and 2. the intellectual approach.

But, Jamison was saying a while ago that Jesus said to "preach the Gospel" and "baptize".

So, does the Gospel natuarally include the aforementioned methods?

Can kindness and love go all the way to bringing someone to Christ?

Do we not need to have more?

Brewster said...

Of course there is more. But your original question is how to approach an atheist. You don't approach an atheist by saying you have to be baptized. If they don't believe God exists, they certainly aren't going to care how to be saved.

Being a good example isn't enough. but its the begining. If you aren't walking the walk, noone will believe the talk.

bigsip said...

Well, technically, the original question had to do with approaching people who don't believe as we do.

I just threw in the atheist guy because the pic was funny.

So, y'all give me some examples.

I'm really curious about how to best talk to people about Jesus.

I mean, there are tons of people with varying beliefs. The obstacles seem insurmountable.

Brewster said...

How in the world are we supposed to convince anyone who doesn't believe in God that He exists?

That's an atheist my friend.

I'm not really sure what you are asking. There are tons of ways to outreach.

Mass media: TV, radio, Intenet.

Writing books, tracks, pamphlets and distributing. I once heard a story about a mildly retarded trashman who used to put pamphlets on the cans. Converted hundreds.

Churches can have conventions, meetings etc.

Knock door to door. Talk to your friends.

bigsip said...

Not necessarily. Buddhists, Taoists, Hindi, Mosslems, Catholics, and many other people don't believe in God the way we do.

But, that's beside the point.

I like your answer. The "one starfish at a time approach".

I'm just looking for something a little deeper.

See, the problem I think the church has with converting people goes back to the "dunk and run" mentality.

We get them to come to church a few times, get them immersed and then let them fend for themselves.

Were they really ever converted? You see, it takes more than that.

Knowledge is not appreciated enough in the conversion process. Continuation of knowledge towards application and eventual wisdom are not emphasized enough if at all.

"Converting" people seems to be more than a simple invitation for coffee or Bible study or whatever.

That's what I'm trying to get to. Why should Christianity be interesting or meaningful to folks outside of it?

How do we get people interested? The problem goes pretty deep. I'm just looking for a deeper discussion of the problem.

Diana said...

That's what I'm trying to tell you, there is no one right way!

Would you like to know what I do? I try to be as kind to people as possible. I try to be honest about my beliefs but tolerant of other peoples'. I give a bigger smile to the person who waits on us at Sticky Fingers (mmmm), a tighter hug to my atheist friend in the hospital, a “I’ll pray for you” to a complete stranger who’s buying lotion for me and telling me that she’s here because her mom has cancer. If I'm with friends, I make it a point to silently pray before the meal. If I'm going to church after rehearsal, work, or class, I ANNOUNCE IT! "I'm going to go get my praise on!" I'm a bubbly, joyful person by nature, so I just try to show people that I'm HAPPY and being in the church can make them happy too.

Yes, you can call it “being nice” or “setting a good example” but there’s a lot more to it. It’s just all part of my plot! I'm very proud to be Christian, so people usually ask about it. And then I tell/ show if I can anything they want to know. I make people curious about me.

I’m both blessed and cursed to live in an area where very few people believe like we do. I’m surrounded with people who are not Christian. I plant the bug in their ear, but it’s usually only a matter of time before someone asks about the Church.

I hope I don’t sound egotistical about this whole thing. Far from it, I wish I were doing more to get people going to Church, including my family. However, one of the only things I have much confidence about is not helping people hate us as a group because of some of us (by us I mean some Christians, not us us) who just antagonize, stereotype, and judge. I sort of make it my life goal to help one person see Christianity in a different way, everyday. I think that’s the first step, making Christianity a positive idea for some people.

bigsip said...

Good stuff, Di.

I wasn't saying it was wrong, just looking for more ideas.

As far as getting people in the doors, being nice and setting an example go a long way.

But, as far as keeping people there, once they've gotten over the niceness and politeness, they want to know what Christianity's good for.

The initial "belonging" is great, but then there has to be more. How are we as a faith perpetuating these folks buildng of faith from milk to meat?

I'm just saying there's way more to staying in the faith than just dunking people. If we truly want the church to grow, we have to retain people. How many coCs have "retention" programs?

bigsip said...

You know, maybe that's where us being the "body" comes in.

As the different parts of the "body" or the church, we have different attitudes and abilities.

Diana has the ability to encourage and get people interested in the church by her great attitude.

Jamison is great at keeping the new folks encouraged once they get in the doors.

Chuck has the apologetic knowledge to help bolster their faith if it gets low.


We just need to find ways as congregations to harness the power of individuals working as a team to do good things.

Is this something that could be done better?

Diana said...

That's kind of what I was going for. We all work together by doing different things. I think it's great how we all help eachother like that!

Diana said...

Yeah, I don't know what to say there. I agree with you that not a lot of coC's follow up a lot after a baptism. They just assume people know that they need to keep going. Because it says it in the Bible. How are new Christians supposed to know what the Bible says? We have a new convert program at our Church, but no one told me about it until about a year after I was Baptized.

I really don't know what to say, Sip. I wish I had that answer, but I simply don't know.

Lisa said...

Sometimes the strongest, most persuasive preaching is done without uttering a word.

Living the fruits of the spirit are much harder than trying to get someone else to take a bite of one!