How to Share the Gospel with Skeptics - Radical

How to Share the Gospel with Skeptics

A recent study performed by the Pew Research Center concluded that both atheism and general skepticism toward religion have been “modestly yet significantly increasing” in America over the past decade. This trend is not exclusive to the United States, but much of Europe is already steeped in secularism as well. 

We serve a God of truth who welcomes our doubts.

While followers of Christ should not be intimidated by this trend, they should be informed and prepared to engage with an increasingly skeptical world. Thankfully, we serve a God of truth who welcomes our doubts. As Christ himself welcomed the skeptic and met their doubts with truth, we too should graciously yet confidently step into difficult conversations with our skeptical neighbors.

Recognize the Root

There is a temptation when sharing the gospel with skeptics to approach the conversation through a strictly intellectual lens. We falsely convince ourselves that if we provide the most philosophically satisfying responses to the skeptic’s questions, they will surely repent and place their faith in Christ. This approach, however, minimizes the spiritual realities at play in all gospel conversations.

As Paul teaches in 2 Corinthians 2:14, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” In other words, the logic of God cannot be understood without aid from the Spirit of God. 

Some have taken this passage to indicate that apologetics, the logical defense of the Christian faith, should be thrown out altogether. However, this cannot be what Paul is teaching as he clearly practiced apologetics himself by answering the logical and philosophical objections he encountered throughout his missionary journeys in the book of Acts.

Instead, it is better to approach apologetic conversations with a humble awareness that only God can bring about the miracle of conversion. This does not negate the importance of reason nor suggests that Christianity calls for an abandonment of logic. However, it rightly recognizes that apologetics is simply a means through which the Spirit of God can supernaturally draw people unto himself.

Lead with Grace, Love through Truth

In a 2022 study conducted by Barna Group, people with no spiritual affiliation were asked to describe the characteristics of a Christian that they would be interested in learning from. The study found that the top characteristic non-believers look for when conversing with a Christian is the ability to listen without judgment.

Far too often, skeptics with genuine concerns about Christianity are met with a barrage of memorized proofs and one-liners, but what they desire most is to be heard. Remember, the ability to humbly listen does not mean that we should affirm worldviews that contradict those of the Bible. Instead, both grace and truth must permeate our conversations.

One effective way to put this concept into practice is to ask intentional questions that peel back the layers of the skeptic’s beliefs and worldview. Questions like, “What’s the biggest thing holding you back from believing in Jesus?” or “If God was real, don’t you think he would want you to know him?” can open the door for fruitful conversation. By genuinely listening to our neighbor’s responses, we can better identify the driving forces behind their unbelief.

In the case that you are met with a question or argument that you have yet to think through, don’t be afraid to humbly respond, “That’s a good question. Let me do some research and get back to you on that.” A calm, humble demeanor can go a long way when you’re talking with a friend who is skeptical of the gospel.

Additionally, we should be careful not to overcorrect by failing to rightly confront the ways our neighbors’ worldviews fall short. As Peter famously instructs in 1 Peter 3:15, “In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” By gently confronting the inconsistencies of a secular worldview with God’s truth, we live out the biblical model for apologetics.

Preparation and Prayer

In order to best reach our skeptical neighbors with the good news of Jesus, we must prepare ourselves on both a spiritual and intellectual level. The enemy often hardens the skeptic’s heart towards Christ through supposed logical inconsistencies within the Christian faith. In light of this, one way we can better serve our doubting neighbors is to devote time towards studying biblical responses to common objections to the faith. This intellectual preparation aligns with Peter’s call to be “prepared to make a defense.” 

All apologetic conversations are inherently more spiritual than they are intellectual.

More importantly, we must prepare to engage with an increasingly skeptical world through prayer. As followers of Jesus, we serve a God who hears our prayers, welcomes them, and graciously responds. Because all apologetic conversations are inherently more spiritual than they are intellectual, believers must rely on the intervention of the Holy Spirit to open the skeptic’s eyes to the beauty of the gospel. By praying for personal boldness and the softening of our neighbors’ hearts, we are inviting the Holy Spirit to do what only he can do through our witness––bring about new life in even the most doubtful heart.

Colton Lee is the Youth Minister of Redeemer Church in Apex, North Carolina. He is an M.Div. student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies.

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