Published December 12, 2013
Question: What are the three essentials necessary to be an effective ambassador?
Part 2: Strategy
Answer: As shared previously, to be effective ambassadors, we need to grow in three areas: knowledge, strategy, and character. This week we focus on strategy.
How can we best communicate the message of Christ so that others will understand and respond? The answer may not be what you think. When a challenge is posed to you from an unbeliever, rattling off a series of rehearsed arguments and evidence usually is not the most effective method.
The key to maneuvering in any conversation, no matter how intelligent or aggressive the other person might be, is to ask good questions. As simple as this may sound, there is no better way to go on the offensive in an inoffensive, disarming way than to use carefully selected questions to continue and advance the conversation. We have three primary objectives and corresponding questions for each.
The first objective is to gather information. When challenged, our first response should be: “What do you mean by that?” They must explain themselves.
For example, if someone says, “There is no God,” our first question should be, “What do you mean by God?” Their concept of God could be completely different than yours. When someone says, “All religions are basically the same,” we politely ask, “In what way are all religions basically the same?” You’ll find that many people recite mantras they’ve heard from other people without actually thinking through them.
These questions take the pressure off of you and allow you to get an education. This also works in a proactive way. If you’d like to share Christ with your Hindu friend, don’t try to read an entire book on Hinduism beforehand. Simply ask your friend what he or she believes and be ready to listen. Most will be delighted to share, and you will already be developing a relationship with the very one you desire to reach.
The second objective is to reverse the burden of proof. This is the responsibility someone carries to show why his or her view is correct. We must ask, “How did you come to that conclusion?” When unbelievers make a statement or claim, most Christians automatically attempt to prove that point wrong. Don’t do it! The person making the claim is responsible for giving reasons and evidence for their conclusion.
If someone states, “The Bible is just a bunch of fables,” or “Jesus never existed,” our response should be, “How did you come to that conclusion? What reasons do you have to support the belief that the biblical authors made it all up or that historians fabricated Jesus’ existence?”
The third objective is to offer a solution. This may take a little more knowledge and apologetics training but remains completely non-confrontational. Our model question is: “Have you ever considered...?” No statement is being made. You are simply offering a solution and, if capable, giving reasons why you believe it’s valid.
For me, this skill is best honed when Jehovah’s Witnesses come knocking on my door. I ask them a series of questions that guide the conversation: “What do you believe? Why do you believe that? How do I understand this verse in light of what you believe? This is my understanding of this verse ... What do you think?”
These three key questions will allow you to stay in control of the conversation and help people see flaws in their own views without you explicitly pointing them out. That’s all part of being an effective ambassador.
For further reading on this important methodology, check out Tactics by Greg Koukl.
Next time we will focus on Character, a lifestyle that conveys and authenticates our message.
Ben Jones is founding owner of AngelDown Studios LLC, a Certified Apologetics Instructor through the North American Mission Board, and has an apologetics speaking ministry at angeldownanswers.com.
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