Instead of answering the questions we assume people have about Christianity, we need to listen and respond to questions they actually have.
Luke Cawley describes an experience from a speaking event in Romania,
“I was asked to speak at a series of events. The first one was on religious pluralism and I spoke about half an hour, and took an hour of questions. It was packed out; maybe two or three hundred people there and I gave the talk. People’s questions were brilliant; they were really engaging and they clearly thought about this stuff.”
“The next night, I talked about suffering. Again, people’s questions were brilliant.
“The third night, I was asked to speak about why I believe scripture. So I gave a talk for the trustworthiness of scripture and why we know the texts are original, etc., and people’s questions were awful. It was like people’s only contact with scripture was perhaps they read The Da Vinci Code, or an anti-Christian meme on Facebook.”
Luke was able to identify that his assumptions were hindering him from sharing the gospel effectively.
“That’s when I realized that trying to get the standard answer, ‘you should trust Scripture because of the 7 reasons why the texts are reliable’ was useless. People didn’t even know enough about scripture to engage in their asking.”
The next time around, Luke spoke directly from the heart.
“I was asked to do a similar talk about Scripture. I talked for 20 minutes on all of the things I love about the Bible, about how it shaped Western culture, and showed them pictures of art and things from film and music that are inspired by the Bible.”
Luke was able gauge where people were coming from and answer questions that they had been wrestling with.
“Once I began to understand where people were coming from; they weren’t coming with a bunch of technical questions about the text, they were actually saying it was irrelevant and uninteresting.What I really needed to do was show them it is relevant and interesting.”
We have an opportunity to answer the ‘why’ questions associated with Gospel by sharing from personal experience and truly listening to others.
“That was my shift of discovering the we can answer the why question. Why people should believe and why people should take an interest in Scripture, but the way we answer that needs to be shaped around where people are coming from and what their questions are.”
Luke Cawley is a writer, speaker, trainer and the director of Chrysolis, an organization with the vision to enable organizations and churches to better communicate the Jesus story. Luke has spent most of his adult life founding and developing missional communities on university campuses in Britain and Romania and is a regular speaker at conferences and outreach events around the world.