Tuesday, June 19, 2007

How Not to Share Your Faith

Friendly Atheist asked his readers to submit stories of "Christians who were well-meaning about sharing their faith, but actually ended up pushing you further away from Christianity. . . . Is there someone who intended on helping you find God. . . but did it in a way that just backfired completely? What happened? Why didn’t their 'tactic' work? What were you thinking/feeling?"

Read the post and responses here and learn what not to do. I'd categorize it this way:
  • Be a hypocrite.
  • Harp on hell.
  • Harp on sins.
  • Focus on denominational distinctives.
  • Use terminology that no one ever uses in normal conversation.
  • Pretend to be interested in the other person, but do so only as long as he's interested in talking about Christian stuff.
  • Argue or pretend to listen, but don't actually discuss.
  • Talk a lot, because time is too short to spend it listening.
Anything you'd add to this list?
Bonus Question: How many of these people rejected Jesus because of Jesus? (Isn't HE supposed to be the stumbling block?)


  1. The good news is, is that I finally learned what not to do in "witnessing" and the bad news is that it seems I learned most of it the hard way.

    I could add about a hundred more items to your list, Arnold.

    But the best news of all, I think, is that if God has someone ready to make a change in her life for following Him, no mistake you make could keep them away from Him. I've seen that happen more than once; it's all amazing, all grace, from beginning to end.

    So yes, I agree that we should all be a lot more sensitive and better listeners, and learn humbly from our atheist friends. I think I learned from my failures, though, not just about "witnessing" but about what kind of person I really was. A humble person will share his faith with humility. A loving person would love unconditionally. A Christlike person would manifest Christ. Anytime we separate "witnessing" from "being witnesses" we make sharing our faith into an activity instead of something that overflows from our lives.

    About five years ago, I had a Japanese student in my women's summer basic beliefs bible study who became a Christian earlier in the spring. She was shocked to learn about hell--no one who shared the gospel with her before told her about it in detail--and she based her decision to follow Christ on what she knew about His love. So, she cried for hours, because that pretty much summed up the eternal destination for her whole country, not to mention her family. It wasn't fair, she said, because her country had not heard and therefore didn't have a chance. I didn't know how my Japanese friend would take this--she could fall away in unbelief and shock over such a hard doctrine. Or blame her Christian friends (not me)for not explaining a key concept--in a way, decieving her.

    The next week, she shared her heart with other international students to share the gospel in Japan, and in the next year, her sister became a believer through a situation that had nothing to do with her. She saw that God was working on His own time with Japan, a little more quietly and slowly.

    I talked with her tonight, and enjoyed fellowship with a mature believer in Christ who is living by faith and making an impact on this world. Quietly. Slowly.

  2. Excellent thoughts. Thanks.