A few nights ago, I was taking my dinner break and another employee came into the break room. We’re both fairly new truck drivers and hadn’t met. I was talking to another driver when I noticed that this other fellow was reading “The Greatest Story Ever Told, So Far” by Lawrence Krauss. I knew that was my in gamebut I waited a moment to see if the conversation inclined naturally toward the book. It didn’t. So, it was up to me to just say something. I did and we conversed for a few minutes about our worldviews, Krauss, William L Craig, and I went on my way. All the while I knew that our paths would cross again.
Confidence to just say something
You may be surprised to learn that our conversation never got to the gospel. You also may be confused to learn that it was never my intention to do so. That’s not my modus operandi. It’s not usually my end game. It has never been my strength and since reading Greg Koukl’s book “Tactics”, I feel more comfortable in every conversation. I especially feel less pressure to produce results when engaging folks with the things that matter most. The confidence I have in Mr. Koukl’s tactical approach helps me to just say something.
Two kinds of two of a kind
When it comes to conversations about Jesus of Nazareth and his claims about reality, there seems to be two kinds of Christians. There are those who are spirited. They jump right in the deep end of the truth pool with their conversation partner in tow. On the other hand, there are those who walk right up to the edge but never get over the fear of “what if”.
The holy diver
The former tactic can sometimes be effective if the non-Christian isn’t turned off by the holy diver’s massive splash. It can be a turn-off though and often is. Especially in today’s cultural atmosphere, Christian proselitism is viewed by some as arrogant and uncaring. Christians are often caricatured as “Bible thumpers”, spreading the Gospel to make one more mark on the handle of their evangelism gun. In the mind of many, there is no necessary connection between sharing the Gospel and real compassion for the person. If we tell the truth, sometimes they’re right.
In those cases, the gung-ho Christian who is willing to dive right in to the truth pool can be seen as judgmental and arrogant. Their approach is rendered ineffective, not convincing, and lacks the appeal of the beauty of the Gospel. If you are that person, it may be time for you to consider another approach, at least sometimes.
The latter tactic is no tactic at all. People who never say anything never communicate anything. The Gospel is at its core, linguistic communication by the way. It may be written or it may be spoken, but it is never silent. At some point, you have to just say something. The way to swim is in the water. The way to engage is in conversation.
Some silent Christians are merely afraid of the unknown when it comes to apologetics and evangelism. The what if keeps them from engaging. It’s like a person who doesn’t know how to swim and is afraid of the unknown. Sometimes the unknown creates enough fear to keep a person out of the pool.
What if I can’t answer their questions?
What if they get mad?
What if they say no?
There is no end to the excuses it seems. But, Mr. Koukl’s tactical approach is integral to defeating the fear of the what if. If you consider yourself frozen at the edge of the kiddie pool of truth, afraid to even dip your toe, consider reading that book.
What about my witness?
There is a misnomer among some Christians that silence is best. Sometimes they’ll even point to an alleged quote from St Francis of Assesi. He supposedly said “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.”
There are at least two problems with this.
One-it is not biblical.
Two-he did not say it.
To communicate the truth about reality, Jesus spoke. To reveal the truth about himself, God used authors to write it down. If you’re convinced that your “witness” communicated by “right living” sufficiently communicates that Jesus died for us and rose again (Rom 10:9-10), you’re mistaken. Remember, Paul said that both the death and the resurrection were according to the Scripture. Then he claimed it must be heard for people to know it and believe. Keep reading Romans 10…
A tactic that helps you just say something.
The thrust of Mr. Koukl’s tactical approach boils down to one thing. It gives people confidence to have conversations. That confidence encourages people to just say something.
In the case of the Christian holy diver, the tactical approach helps manage a conversation in a way that is less offensive. The Colombo tactic focuses on questions and therefore listening. A listening apologist is a caring apologist. A caring apologist is an effective apologist.
In the case of the silent Christian, the tactical approach takes away the burden of having to be a finisher. Many people sow, but not many reap when it comes to evangelism. When you come to grips with the fact that you are not called to bring every conversation to a Gospel presentation, you will be freed.
Now, you can avoid the awkwardness of an unsuitable segue into “Would you like to accept Jesus today” and just say something. Something is better than nothing, you know. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll feel about conversing about the things that matter most.
Just say something
Because we ought to be following Christ’s example, we ought to engage people. We ought to seek to be effective engagers as well, because Jesus was. Our culture, our people, desperately need the Gospel. They are requiring an answer from us about the hope we have in Christ. What will be your approach? Remember, a belly-flop is not really a dive and dog paddling is still swimming. Be tactical.
If you are already making a splash, remember that people are watching. Don’t dive in merely to get the sunbathers wet. Your tactic ought not be the belly-flop approach. Be tactical, deliberate, and listen. Sometimes it’s best to just say something, but let it be a question.
On the other hand, if you’re stuck at the edge of the pool, don’t be afraid to come on in. The water’s fine. Use a tactical approach and have confidence that you don’t have to be a finisher. Start looking for a way in before you worry about a way to the end. Just say something.