Questions and discussion about witnessing....

Are you a sincere seeker who has questions about Christianity, or a Christian with doubts about your faith? Post them here to receive a thoughtful response.
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Questions and discussion about witnessing....

#1

Post by derrick09 » Tue Oct 05, 2010 2:38 am

Hello guys, I want to ask you all about the current state of witnessing and bringing people to Christ. From the way it looks to me at the moment, it seems to be very difficult if not, almost impossible to lead almost any of today's young American or western nation man or woman to Christ. Even if we use evidence and arguments from apologetics, to me, I think most of today's young people already have their mind so secularized and they have it made up, not to mention they have their heart so hardened that I don't think hardly anyone even Christian philosophiers and intellectuals can win them over to Christ. I've noticed especially on the internet like at other Christian apologetics chat rooms and message boards that the atheists and nonbelievers are so hateful and they have their eyes and ears closed at the getgo you can never get a good word in, nonetheless even come close to convince them. What's scary is this is just on the internet, it's every bit as bad offline. Like per se, the college I used to attend (and by God's grace made it out with my life and my faith in tact) was WKU or Western Kentucky University and to give you a idea on how people in my age group and younger are treating messengers of the gospel look no further than these following video clips...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAVN4v2_tYw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dg1FMRaE43s

So as you can see, Christians in America have been in a hostile environment for quite sometime, but from just these examples alone, it shows that the hostility is increasing in number and in intensity. So in terms of reaching people for Christ, do we keep on witnessing and debating with the people in our country and countries like us until we are blue in the face and accomplish nothing for God's kingdom, or do we take more of our efforts to the under developed or eastern type countries where the people there are still moldable and open to the gospel? Is that the only real audience we have left? For me personally, I don't do much witnessing nor do I share my faith much with unbelievers. For one, I'm very shy and anti social (that's one of the reasons I love the internet), and two since I've had no luck when I debate unbelievers online I'm just tired of fruitless discussions and failed attempts. I'm also real scared that unbelievers will get violent and try to harm me. Now on one hand, I would love to die as a martyr, the only problem is, I don't want to die a martyr right now unless I have to. The main reason is that I want to experience some things (like having a wife and children) that I won't be able to experience in heaven since marriage and having children will be done away with forever. But what I"m wondering is, what would you all suggest would be a good way to reach people for Christ whether it be the impossible to reach people here in western "secular" nations or people in eastern cultures? Quite honestly, since I don't feel like I'm cut out to confrontational witnessing or debating, I feel like my way of best serving God currently (and I hope God's ok with this) is through researching and studying apologetics and supporting apologetics ministries. But anyway, I'd love to see your thoughts and comments on this issue. Thanks everyone and God bless. :wave:
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Re: Questions and discussion about witnessing....

#2

Post by narnia4 » Tue Oct 05, 2010 6:47 am

I don't know if things are quite so bad as you indicate generally. The "new atheists" are a very loud minority, but statistically they are still a small minority. The majority of people in America still believe in God and are open to spiritual discussions even if they aren't saved, although it often doesn't seem that way. Even in European countries where things are way worse, statistically there are still a fair percentage of believers and there isn't an overwhelming percentage (maybe like a third of the population in many European countries?) of pure atheists. With all that said, I don't believe the "standing on the street corner" way is nearly as effective as it might once have been. If anything, it often turns people off because they associate it with all sorts of negative things, like the Westboro Baptist "church". I can also agree that there's a certain "culture of disbelief" that permeates Western civilization, where the attitude of the culture doesn't seem to coincide with actual statistics.

I believe that the most effective way today to evangelize (and it may have always been the most effective way) is one on one. Form relationships so you can see eye to eye to people and try to communicate with them in a way that they actually understand. If the Holy Spirit prepares their hearts, I think that's a really great way. A large scale thing that Craig often talks about is changing the culture through the universities. Influential figures like Craig, Zacharias, and many others spend a lot of time talking at universities and trying to change the culture there by changing hearts. With the philosophical revolution that Craig always is talking about, it may take time to see the results (until the young apologists like you grow up and start influencing the culture), but I really feel that there will be a positive impact by the work of apologists like that.

Finally, Barna recently released some interesting survey results that could have something to do with this subject-

http://www.barna.org/transformation-art ... uch-change

Lots of spiritual dialogue, but not much change. Only 7% said that they could think of any religious beliefs or practices that they had changed in the last 5 years (more details in the survey). With how our culture has been bombarded left and right with atheistic messages and attacks on Christianity (and the other way around too), I think it just goes to show that people just shut it all out. I don't even bother with online debates any more (unless it's a place like this where it's more answering questions for seekers or healthy dialogue), those people are simply too angry and won't change their minds no matter WHAT you write. I believe a large number of atheists come here and to other Christian sites and to atheist sites in order to reaffirm their disbelief in one way or another, often simply by mocking Christians. Again, this is why I believe one on one or small group conversations remains the most effective way. Even for the biggest names in apologetics, if they make a person think about how reasonable Christianity is... it will almost certainly still take someone else in his life (whether it be a pastor or apologists or someone close to him) to really get him to change his mind.
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Re: Questions and discussion about witnessing....

#3

Post by jlay » Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:21 am

If people can come to Christ in hostile Muslim countries, then it can happen anywhere. I doubt our circumstances even remotely compare to what our brothers faced in the 1st century.

I know many here are enamoured with apologetics. I certainly appreciate them, but we must understand that what the world considers wise means nothing in the eyes of God. And vice verse. The preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness.

witnessing is to be done in the same spirit that Jesus mentioned in Luke 4:18. Every hurdle you mention above is due to the spiritual warfare discussed in Ephesians 6. We are told what are the armor and weapons, and so we should prepare ourselves accordingly. Apologetics may soften a person to receive the gospel. It may tear down some strongholds, but it is never to be a substitute for the gospel itself. If a person is spiritually decieved then it is likely they will remain decieved in those other areas of their life as well. Do you really think Hitchens and Dawkins haven't heard the best apologetics has to offer?

We should be open to all kinds of opportunities to witness. Christ witnessed one on one, to crowds, to friends and to strangers He would never see again. So did Paul. Should we only give the truth to those we have a relationship with? No. We should be available to God whenever, and wherever.
But what I"m wondering is, what would you all suggest would be a good way to reach people for Christ whether it be the impossible to reach people here in western "secular" nations or people in eastern cultures? Quite honestly, since I don't feel like I'm cut out to confrontational witnessing or debating, I feel like my way of best serving God currently (and I hope God's ok with this) is through researching and studying apologetics and supporting apologetics ministries. But anyway, I'd love to see your thoughts and comments on this issue. Thanks everyone and God bless.
If it really rested on our ability, or what we are cut out for, then nothing would ever happen. God does not call the equipped, He equips the called. What is your number one reason you are not cut out for confrontational witnessing? I think I could answer for everyone here if I said, fear. Fear of man precludes us from reaching out as we should to the lost. If you are a Christian, you have the Words of life. How terrible if we withhold them from those that are perishing. That is like saying, "Well I know that person is drowning, but I'll send some money to a water rescue training program instead." There are areas where God has called you. People who your life will intersect with. They will never hear from Ravi Zacharias. They will hear from you. You may be the only Jesus they ever see. Let your fear drive you into the scriptures and into prayer that God will prepare you and use you to His glory. Surrender yourself to this and God will provide the opportunity.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: Questions and discussion about witnessing....

#4

Post by Sudsy » Tue Oct 05, 2010 11:50 am

Amen ! jlay. I think we have a great example of the worst of sinners who was extremely religious and out to eliminate followers of Christ when God saved him and he wrote most of our New Testament, the apostle Paul.

Perhaps one reason for the lack of converts in some areas is due to the lack of prayer and/or belief in the power of prayer. A belief in warring against these strongholds in people's thinking. I think we believe too much that it is about our rational arguments that brings people to Christ rather than believing in the power of God to take the simple Gospel message and open the eyes of an unbeliever to it's truths.

In our local fellowship we are seeing some of the worst of sinners, at least outwardly, being transformed by the work of God. Often it is outside the local church walls through small group and individual contacts where the Gospel is not altered.

I believe a return and belief in the power of prayer might be one of the keys to what is missing today. Even in our local fellowship I have observed when prayers are made how self focused they sound. What happened to the crying out to God for the souls of men and women and the praying against strongholds in unbelievers minds ? Perhaps this is not common. Do you see much of this in your fellowship ?

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Re: Questions and discussion about witnessing....

#5

Post by derrick09 » Fri Nov 05, 2010 7:02 am

Hello again, I was wanting to respond and try to give you all a better idea on what I face and what needs to be done. If it's ok could you guys answer this for me, to be a true Christian, do you have to "cold witness" to people, as in witness to total strangers in a awkward, confrontational and dare I say traditional kind of way? From what I've read in the scriptures you can serve the church in a number of ways (i.e. the body of Christ analogy) such as I can be a deacon, a usher, sing in the choir, give money, or give supplies to such and such church function, watch kids in the daycare, take out garbage, do maintance on the church, all kinds of things, why do I have to pass out chick tracts, and make people mad by trying to sell them Christ like a vacuum cleaner or oxy clean salesman?! Because as I've said, people these days (especially people my age Twenties or younger) are some of the most cold callus hateful arrogant... "people" on earth, they will not accept or even stand to listen to what I would tell them even if I was William Lane Craig. Many people these days already have their mind made up about Christianity, they think followers are fake liars, they think the Biblical stories are myths and they think our moral standards are harsh and intolerable. Not only that, especially in the town and state that I live in, if you live where I do (and the same can be said of almost anywhere in the US ) you can easily learn and find out about Christ and Christianity because there are thousands of churches still around, you can easily pick up a Bible nearly everywhere, there are lots and lots of Christian TV programs both nationwide and local not to mention on the Internet you can learn countless things about Christ and Christianity (both good, bad, true and untrue of course). So why would someone like me, someone who doesn't really have a awesome sounding story like testimony be of any good use as far as a one on one witness to someone? I mean when I got saved I didn't get set free from drugs or from a past life of violence, nor did I have a tremendous emotional or spiritual experience, I mean, I got saved at a young age who's grandfather was a church deacon and the most drama I've had in my walk with God has been just in the past recent years due to studying apologetics. Not to mention, I'm just not a people person, I do not like talking face to face with strangers even about the weather, nonetheless about politics or religion. That's one of the reasons why I love the Internet and why I love you guys because it's a less fearful and less confrontational environment. In addition, before I would even go out and cold witness to someone I would first have to make sure I've got all my doctrine issues squared away plus make sure that my intellectual case for Christian Theism is good enough to pass along because there is no need to give people the gospel or the case for Christian Theism when you yourself are unsure about a few things. Now the case that I have for me and the doctrinal things I hold to currently are for the most part good enough for me, but I don't know if I would try to sell them to others or at least not at this time until I get everything situated. Another thing that one of you guys mentioned is that I could witness to people through lifestyle, which is well and good and I guess it is more effective in this day and age, but the problem is with me, I'm not at the place in my life yet where I could easily display moral perfection. I mess up very easily and quite often, which if I did that in front of a unbeliever who is considering Christianity I would completely ruin his opportunity to accept Christ, because after all, many curious unbelievers think that if Christianity is true and there are people who truly know Christ then those people would display moral perfection or a abnormal amount of moral goodness. But because not many unbelievers know all the facts and the facts being that Christians like me do indeed mess up some more than others that puts even more pressure on the believer who is trying to be a witness. And because I don't have the strength or the ability like other people have I just don't think I could even witness to people via lifestyle. But in conclusion, are there other ways, ways that I could be more comfortable and thus be more EFFECTIVE at forwarding God's kingdom then from traditional one on one witnessing? I know many of you who read this think I'm somehow ashamed to be a Christian, that's completely untrue, for example I've been baptitised, I've attended Christian schools, I publicly announce my faith on forums such as facebook and pray in public settings so this doesn't have anything to do with me being ashamed it has to do with being effective at what you do and you can't be very effective if you are not at least 50% comfortable doing it. I know that it may show that I'm a weaker than normal person but hey you can't be good at everything you do. I just don't want to witness to people in the traditional sense because I'm afraid I would accidentally make Christ and Christianity look like a laughing stock like many of the Kent Hovinds and the Jimmy Swaggerts of the world have. Christianity has the way too many black eyes on it currently and I don't want to accidentally add to it. And I'm not saying for people to completely do away with traditional methods of witnessing, I just think you need to know what you are doing and to not make the Creator of the universe look bad. That's the point I'm trying to make overall. Any other questions or comments? :wave:
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Re: Questions and discussion about witnessing....

#6

Post by jlay » Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:38 am

From what I've read in the scriptures you can serve the church in a number of ways (i.e. the body of Christ analogy) such as I can be a deacon, a usher, sing in the choir, give money, or give supplies to such and such church function, watch kids in the daycare, take out garbage, do maintance on the church, all kinds of things, why do I have to pass out chick tracts, and make people mad by trying to sell them Christ like a vacuum cleaner or oxy clean salesman?!
Serving inside the church (church building it sounds like you are referring to) in other areas is not a substitute for being available to God outside the church.

I have witnesses in just about every possible setting. One on one. To small groups, and to large groups. There isn't any magic formula. There have been times where I wasn't even expecting to witness to someone, and the opportunity came up. What if I had said, "Well, I serve in other areas of the church, so I'll let this poor soul alone." Does that embody what Christ is about?
I understand your aprehensions about tracts, and confrontational witnessing. If you have access to good, sound tracts, just leave them. Leave them in the bathroom stall, between the salt and pepper shakers at the restaurant. Leave one with your tip. But, make sure they are scripturally sound.
Because as I've said, people these days (especially people my age Twenties or younger) are some of the most cold callus hateful arrogant... "people" on earth, they will not accept or even stand to listen to what I would tell them even if I was William Lane Craig.
Well, you are called to love them, serve them, and pray for them. So, get over your judgmental attitude and get on your knees for the lost.

I've talked with teens, 20 somethings, who are God haters. I've had some of them thank me for taking the time to speak with them. These people who are filled with hate are also without hope. And deep down many of them know it. If Chrsitianity has too many black eyes then we should be all the more eager to engage the culture and show a true perspective of Christ and His church.

The results are not up to you. They are up to God. All you need to do is be faithful to obey His Word.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: Questions and discussion about witnessing....

#7

Post by TallMan » Fri Nov 05, 2010 10:01 am

"ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me ... they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 1:8, 2:4)

so, (1) receive that Life, (2) live it.

People that do that are different in terms of their nature, what they say what they see life is for.
They have answers and desires to see God work through them.
God can and does use them almost anywhere & anytime.
They are cities on hills.

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Re: Questions and discussion about witnessing....

#8

Post by derrick09 » Fri Nov 05, 2010 10:36 am

Ok, I've got another question, are you two saying I have to put myself in embressing or awkward situations in order to be a true believer? Are you saying I have to do this as a ritual to be saved??? You two are acting like I"ve committed blasphomey or something. Why do I have to witness or serve God in a way that is awkward or in a way that does more harm than good? Now one of you did mention praying for the lost and distributing tracts in various places, I don't mind doing those things but as far as walking up to total strangers and talking about religion or anything for that matter, I'm just too nervous and unprepared. I'm not good at being social with anything. Quite honestly with the way things are socially right now I prefer to stay out of public as much as I can. I don't know, I guess from where I've had bad run ins with people in the past and where I almost got murdered by a fellow student in middle school I'm just really nervous about being around people my age. Again I just hope you two aren't saying I have to do this to prove that I'm saved. I mean, we are not saved through baptism or through church attendence or through doing other kinds of works or rituals. I know that the lost need to be told the gospel and I know of people who are more talanted and more capable of speaking to people than I am so instead of making God look like a fool through going up to people and giving them a Ray Comfort style shouting match I'll try reaching them through prayer, or through helping out a missions group or apologetics ministry. And that thing about speaking in tongues, not all believers speak in tongues, it's not a essential doctrine, now granted, if I could do that (and I've even asked God to get me to do that) and so far He hasn't but I hope you are not saying that speaking in tongues is a requirement. Again you guys are acting kinda hostile like I'm almost denying the Trinity or something, I certainly hope I haven't deeply angered you two.
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Re: Questions and discussion about witnessing....

#9

Post by jlay » Fri Nov 05, 2010 10:40 am

Did Philip speak in tongues to the Ethiopian. Did Paul to the people on Mars Hill?

Do you when you witness to strangers?
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: Questions and discussion about witnessing....

#10

Post by derrick09 » Fri Nov 05, 2010 10:45 am

Let's see I wasn't referring to you on the speaking in tongues thing, I was referring to the other guy, I don't what his beliefs are, since many of the regulars debate him, I'm thinking he could be a heretic, but no I don't think Paul spoke in tongues to people on Mars Hill. And well since it's been a very long time since I've even dared to speak with strangers about any major issue than no I haven't spoke in tongues while witnessing to strangers.
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Re: Questions and discussion about witnessing....

#11

Post by Sudsy » Fri Nov 05, 2010 11:44 am

I personally don't believe we must force ourselves to be something we are not and when we do we may cause more harm than good. But and it's a big BUT, when we are truly in love with Christ it will be a most natural thing for us to share our faith regardless of our natural abilities. We don't have to but rather we will just do it because our hearts are full of the love of God for the lost. And if we are willing to be lead by God in our witnessing, He will equip us with what we need to say as He alone knows the core issues in an individual's heart.

Now, this has been my experience in the past and I wish I could say it is still my current experience but I confess that I have some fears, some that you referred to, that keeps me from sharing my faith as often as I feel lead to. The early church in Acts prayed for boldness and then they were quite confrontational. Read Peter's sermon just after the outpouring of the Spirit. Religious people really need to be confronted with the truth in a loving way as Peter did and He pleaded with them to repent.

Regarding people hearing the Gospel in our culture from various sources, I agree. But what I found in some door-to-door evangelism is that although they might have heard the message with their physical ears they did not hear from God or shut Him off. When we asked people why God should allow them into His heaven, most unbelievers referred to good works and had no concept of the righteousness given to us to make us acceptable to God. So, we must keep presenting the Gospel in it's simplest form, until they have an ear to hear. I also think as I posted prior to this that prayer is a powerful means in breaking down the strongholds that block people from hearing. There are many forces working against people being reconciled with God.

Regarding the tongues speaking - not necessary for salvation or witnessing. There are many tongues speakers that are not witnesses. It is not the tongues speaking that gives us power or saves us. The power is the working of the Holy Spirit through us to lead us and give us what we should say. He knows what is in the heart of each person. Many of the greatest evangelists in history never spoke in an unknown tongue. God just wants our regular tongues given for His service.

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Re: Questions and discussion about witnessing....

#12

Post by derrick09 » Fri Nov 05, 2010 1:13 pm

Thank you Sudsy, finally a voice of reason in this situation. For a minute there I thought the whole place was going to bring forth the case that witnessing is necessary for salvation. Now if I can get over my self confidence and fear of being around people (especially strangers) issues I'll be more bold and thus do more traditional witnessing. But for now I"m grateful to serve God in other ways like giving, praying, researching and studying the Bible and apologetics and so on. It's not that I don't want to reach the lost, I certainly do it's just one finding a effective way to do it and two finding people who will listen. Most people where I live at are either already saved or they are so lost they wouldn't want any part of Christianity. Not to mention apologetics wouldn't be helpful to most of the believers where I live at either, since I and most of you all here are old earth creationists or intelligent design advocates, most believers in my area would reject it immediately since most in my hometown are young earth creationists and or do not think that you should mix philosophy or logic or thinking with Christianity. For them it's mostly a emotional or spooky spiritual kind of thing, they are "blindfaithers" as I like to call them. But I think they are certainly as saved and are as true of believers as I am its just that they will be very unprepared in dealing with atheists or any question seeking unbeliever. But, that's just the kind of luck I have. :?
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Re: Questions and discussion about witnessing....

#13

Post by August » Fri Nov 05, 2010 1:50 pm

Have you looked at some study guides that help people know how to witness? For some people it comes naturally, but for most it is something that has to be learned and practiced to get comfortable with. I can recommend the "Evangelism Explosion" book if you are interested in reading how to witness.
Acts 17:24-25 (NIV)
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. [25] And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else."

//www.omnipotentgrace.org
//christianskepticism.blogspot.com

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Re: Questions and discussion about witnessing....

#14

Post by TallMan » Fri Nov 05, 2010 1:50 pm

jlay wrote:Did Philip speak in tongues to the Ethiopian. Did Paul to the people on Mars Hill?
Do you when you witness to strangers?
No becauase tongues is for talking to God, not to men (1 Cor. 14:2, 4)

Tongues allows we to drink from God's Spirit, then I am a first-hand witness of the New Life, I have the peace, joy and love of God.

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Re: Questions and discussion about witnessing....

#15

Post by Sudsy » Fri Nov 05, 2010 2:02 pm

It's not that I don't want to reach the lost, I certainly do it's just one finding a effective way to do it and two finding people who will listen.
It is a good thing to hear you say that you want to reach the lost. This is a good sign of a heart like Jesus. I think it is important to tell God that we are willing to share our faith and then let Him open the doors. But be expecting that He will and that He will give you what to say. This takes faith but that is how we are to walk, by faith and not by sight.

Yes, many won't listen. The story of the sower going out to sow is a good one that shows that only some sowing will take hold and last. Sometimes we have little opportunities to talk about Christ but we are not sensitive to the Spirit's leading and then kick ourselves later when it dawns on us. And we should expect persecution. It comes with being a stranger and an alien in this world.

My gut belief is that when something takes over your heart, you just can't keep quiet about it. I know that when I used to golf seven days a week trying to aspire to a scratch golfer that my conversation was always about golf. This was my god. I believe if we took more time to think about Christ and what is the 'good news', the Gospel, then we could also not keep quiet about it. Whether we had good technique or whether we will be effective or have answers to all the questions that may arise would be secondary concerns.

I am similar in a way to yourself, my father lead me to Christ at an early age. However, both my parents were saved in their thirties from a non-churched background, very worldly. They both had day/night conversions. But I lived apart from fellowship with God for some 20 years and now, just a few years ago, am so glad to be back in fellowship and His forgiveness of my wandering has greatly affected my love for Him. But don't go out and sow some wild oats to get more love for God. 8-}2 Anyway, joking aside, I believe many of us need that first love sense once again that takes us out of our normal ways and into those areas of walking by faith where we are again excited to tell others about Christ and what He has provided. Good to hear of your zeal for God and glad you shared so honestly on this subject. I think many are quietly saying amen to how you expressed your apprehensions.

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