by Austin Maxheimer
What is the easiest way to bring up Christianity with a non-believer?
The answer seems simplistic, but it’s still the answer: Build a deep and genuine relationship with God, and then do the same with that person. A basic idea, but sometimes difficult to follow through with.
Before Christians start down the faith-sharing path, they should ask themselves three very deep, introspective questions:
- Do I love God? Really love God?
- Am I following Jesus? Am I actively surrendering my life to the Lordship of Christ?
- Am I building real relationships with people who don’t know Jesus?
I have found in my own life (and in the life of Christians who I admire and try to learn from) that if the answer to these questions is a clear and resounding “yes,” then you rarely have to bring up Christianity at all; it merely overflows naturally into conversation. You share out of your life, hope, and love instead of feeling like you are forcing a faith conversation.
That being said, here are three more important learnings that may be helpful in bringing up Christianity with a non-believer:
1. Release the expectation of conversion.
Eric Swanson in his book To Transform a City has an all-time line that I wish every Christian would adopt: “Jesus is our ultimate motive, not our ulterior motive.” If we go into our relationships with non-believers freed from the understanding that we need to convert them, then we can focus on sharing our witness to Jesus instead of focusing on what the other person needs to realize and do. How much more fun is that?! And freeing. We cannot make the life transformation in others; God releases us from that expectation by accomplishing it through Jesus and His Spirit. In fact, Alan Hirsch doesn’t even call people “non-believers”—he calls them not-yet-Christians, believing in the expectation that God will complete the work in them.
2. Carry the correct posture.
This is so crucial. If we come into the relationship with not-yet-Christians believing we have all the answers and they have nothing to teach us about God, then first of all we will be rejected; secondly, we will flat out be wrong. We need to approach others as listeners, learners, and servants. Jesus Christ, while never shying away from sharing the truth, came to serve, not be served. He died for those who rejected him, and he laid aside his life for those who positioned themselves as his enemies. If we carry the posture of a servant, seeking the common good for all of humanity, we gain a hearing for the hope we have within us. If our posture comes as a lecturer shooting bullet points of salvation, we will not be heard.
3. Increase proximity.
It is a documented phenomenon that the longer Christians live out their faith journey in America, the more insulated they become living inside a Christian bubble. All their friends become Christians. All their activities are through the church. It is a striking contrast that Jesus’ own life took him farther and farther into the missional frontier, closer and closer to the more hostile crowd, until he hung on the cross. What motivated this? A brokenness and infinite love for those who were far from His Father. People don’t want a formulaic evangelistic plan; they need to experience the sacrificial love of Jesus. That can’t happen without proximity. And this is the easiest part! If you need a recommendation for how to increase proximity, simply look up your community calendar and go to everything your community puts on.
What other things have you learned to help share Christianity and begin faith conversations?