Yesterday I was reading On Mission magazine, which is published by the denomination I am affiliated with. It was filled with great articles but one captivated my attention most because it touched on a subject that I am very interested in. The title of the article was Helping the Rational Skeptic Find the Way to Faith in God. It was written by Kitty Foth-Regner, author of Heaven Without Her. According the Ms. Foth-Regner's website she was living the feminist dream with a successful copywriting business, the perfect live-in boyfriend, beautiful garden, and a nice house. But when her beloved mother developed a fatal illness, she found herself on the brink of despair with nothing but questions.
Ms. Foth-Regner began her search for truth and finally came to faith in Jesus Christ. In the article, she lists seven steps that Christians can take to help their friends who are skeptics consider faith in God. I have listed the steps below and added my own comments on each one for why I think that step is important.
- Pray – only God can call the non-Christian to faith.
- Help frame the questions – spiritual seekers are often too confused to know exactly how to ask the right questions. They may be angry about some past hurt which may be clouding their thinking. They may have had a number of conversations with various religious people and have all the ideas mixed together in their head. All religions are not the same.
- Point to a Creator – the teaching of evolution has led many to conclude that there is no God before they have even considered if there IS a God. Often we may need to spend time helping our seeker friends think through the concept of Intelligent Design. Once they get that down, the conclusion that God is the Intelligent Designer is often an easier step to take.
- Clarify the alternatives – we live in a world that thinks all ideas are equally true. But clearly some ideas are not true. Some ideas are better than other ideas. If there is no God, then what is there? If there is a God, how can we know Him?
- Tailor our tips – instead of giving a "one size fits all" salesman pitch, we should take time to actually listen to what our seeker friends are saying. Then we must give them the information that addresses the issues they are concerned with instead of our favorite issue that we think we may be experts in.
- Explain the Gospel – way too many people both inside and outside the church do not really understand what the Gospel is. We need to cut through all the religious junk and share the essence of the Gospel. The essence of the Gospel is that every person has messed up and therefore does not deserve to live in the perfection of God's Presence. Justice demands that the mess be paid for. Since none of us were perfect enough to pay for our own mess, Jesus came and paid the price for us. When we repent of our mess-prone lifestyles and instead commit to follow the way of Jesus, we are freed from the consequences of our messes and begin to walk a better road. That road leads us to the perfection that is God's Presence forever.
- Pray some more – we should not be fooled into thinking that if we give our skeptic friend some memorized Gospel presentation or some book on apologetics, that they will suddenly fall on their knees in repentance, sell all their possessions, and then become a missionary to Africa! We must listen. We must share. We must provide materials. And through it all we must keep praying! It will take time. But the best part about witnessing to skeptics is that our faith tends to grow alongside the faith of our skeptical friends. We both become more spiritual during the process. Prayer is an important piece of that.
I liked Ms. Foth-Regner's seven steps. I might have written them a little different if it had been my magazine article. But I think she does a great job of giving us practical steps to be a witness to those who need to hear the Gospel but may not realize it yet. The hard part is putting those seven steps into action!