Thursday, May 06, 2010

Apologetics Toolkit: Tips for the Apologetic Life #03

This continues the Apologetics Toolkit series on: Tips for the Apologetic Life. The goal behind this series of 5 tips is to provide a few ideas on how to take the ideas studied in apologetics and apply them to "real life" situations. This particular tip has to do with conversational tools.

Tool #03: Ask Questions

1. Less asserting, more asking
One trap many people fall into is becoming the primary talker in an interaction. What should have been a conversation has turned into a monologue. Without a dialogue, the conversation ends, a lecture begins, and good communication stops. Not only does this cause the listener to disengage, but it also creates another problem: the more you assert, the more you must defend. In defending the faith in a conversation, it is usually wise to assert less and ask more. Giving a good answer means understanding the real issue - and this is best discovered through asking questions.

2. Understand your friend
There are two reasons why assuming your friend's position without asking proper questions is a big mistake. First, you will often get it wrong. Second, your friend gets the impression that you have just pigeon-holed them and are only waiting to lecture them. So don't make this mistake. Use questions. Questions allow you to understand your friend; and this must be your goal. If your friend has offered their position, then you want to discover the reasons. When you have a good grasp on the reasons why your friend has come to their conclusion you are better able to communicate directly to the key issues.

3. Ask questions until people ask questions
Being genuinely concerned about your friend will help you to keep asking questions until you truly understand their views. Having a good understanding of apologetic issues will help you to discern the best questions to ask. Often it is through asking questions that your friend will in turn ask questions. Then it's your turn to do some talking. But then stop and ask some more questions.

What does this look like in a in everyday life? It looks like this:
Next time you are in a conversation, don't go in "guns blazing" with all the answers. Instead, approach conversations with questions. Do a lot less talking and a lot more listening. Have a real heart's motivation to understand your friend is coming from and why they hold their views. Before you push too hard to be understood, make it your goal to show your friend you understand them.

The top four books recommended on this topic:
1. Tactics by Greg Koukl - this is possibly the most useful practical book the apologist can read.
2. Conversational Evangelism by David & Norman Geisler
2. Questioning Evangelism by Randy Newman
4. Dialogical Apologetics by David Clark


Darren Webb said...

This is definitely helpful. I've found when talking with people if I ask people what they believe and give them the opportunity to explain they seem more open to what I have to say.

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