The second aspect of sharing the truths of Christianity is based upon the book by Greg Koukl, Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussion Your Christian Convictions.
As indicated earlier, facts by themselves usually aren’t enough to persuade a person to change from what they currently believe, at least not initially. However, the way the facts are presented can be almost as important as the facts themselves. If you don’t have an effective way to present the facts, their importance can be overlooked.
As well when some hear only the facts, as indicated in the Worldview and Philosophy section, they will take those facts and view them in such a way that the facts fit into their worldview. Or the other option considering their worldview is that they may just disregard the facts and come up with a creative explanation to invalidate them. Much like what happens with some who deny the actual Christian teaching of the Trinity.
Similar to the The Way of the Master method, Tactics uses the method of asking questions rather than stating claims. The beauty of asking questions is that you’re not under any obligation to defend a claim because you haven’t stated a claim. When another person is making a claim and you are asking questions, they have the burden of proof to defend their claim, not you.
When you ask questions, the other person is encouraged to talk more, and this will provide you with more information about their beliefs, feelings, and reasoning. The side benefit to asking questions is that you show the person being asked the questions that you are interested in what they believe, and also that you are paying attention. When I indicate being 'interested', I do not mean faking an interest. I mean being genuinely interested. Learning why a person believes what they do is like the way a set of facts are presented. Asking questions gives you greater insight into the life of the person you are talking with and give context and understanding into the reasons why they have come to the beliefs they have. It meets people where they are and helps you to present information in a way that makes the best sense to them.
A secondary beneficial aspect to this method is that when you ask questions, you actually control the direction of the conversation. By deciding which questions to ask, you determine the subject and which direction to take the subject. As an example, if you think about a student being asked about their homework by a parent, the parent has determined the subject. Asking questions is much less threatening than stating facts and demonstrates a willingness to discuss things.
An encouragement to ask questions is the quote from Francis Schaeffer -
"If you give me an hour, I'll listen 55 minutes and talk 5”.
Whenever possible, ask open ended questions and not closed ended questions. Closed ended questions are questions that can be answered with a single word, like yes, no, three, etc. Open ended questions can’t be answered with a simple yes or no, or a single word. They are far better when getting to know the person you are talking with because you learn much more about what that person and what they believe. Open ended questions are questions which typically start with who, what, where, when, how, and why. Be careful though when asking why questions as why questions can sometimes make the other person feel a little like they are being interrogated, that they need to explain what they are being asked about.
The primary tactic in the Tactics system is called the Columbo Method. The technique is named after the main character in an old TV police series named Columbo, and refers to his style of police detective work. Detective Columbo very effectively used questions to determine the true details of a crime he was investigating, and eventually discover the criminal.
Just One More Thing... | Columbo
The Columbo Tactic in Apologetics - Greg Koukl
The Columbo Tactic: Diplomacy Rather than D-Day (Greg Koukl)
Again, using questions has the benefit of placing the burden of proof on the person who is challenging your beliefs. This is very important because of the misunderstandings that so many have about Christianity. And unfortunately, even Christians hold to some of these misunderstandings too. If the person you are talking with isn’t being confrontational and challenging your beliefs, questions can help them discover the reasons, or lack of reasons they have for the beliefs they hold. As stated before, we must show respect to the person we are talking with, so that they will be open to participating in the conversation, and not close us out.
This Columbo Method is the question, “What do you mean by that?”, or a question worded similarly. The following are examples of situations, and possible first questions you could ask in these situations:
When someone declares, “There is no God,” you can ask, “What do you mean by God?” or “What particular idea of God are you rejecting?” This clarifies what the other person’s perception of God is. It is easy to assume another thinks about God, (and many topics), in the same way we do, when they actually think differently. If they reject God because they think He is an old man in the sky, then I would reject that concept as well because that’s not the God I believe in.
When someone asserts, “All religions are basically the same,” you can ask, “What do you mean by the same?” or “In what way are all religions the same?” This will require the other person to clarify what they see as similarities between religions. Remember Greg Koukl’s comment, “When studying religions, the point is not to focus on the things that are similar. It’s the differences that really matter.”
When someone makes the objection, “You shouldn’t force your views on me,” you can ask, “Specifically, what is it I’m doing to force my views on you right now?” then perhaps, “How is that forcing my views?” This will require that the person making the objection clarify what they are actually objecting to, rather than just repeat a phrase they might have heard.
When someone states, “The Bible has been changed over the years,” you can ask, “What in the Bible has been changed?” and/or, “How exactly do you think it has been altered?”
Something to be aware of when asking questions. The way you ask a question is critically important. Think about the following questions, and think about the way they are being asked:
“Oh yeah, well what about _______?!
You don’t have an answer for that, do you?”
Can’t you almost hear the harsh tone in these two questions? If you were having a conversation with someone and they asked questions of you in this way, would you be more or less willing to have an open conversation with them, and consider the information they want to show you?
This is why it is important not to ask questions in this manner. Hopefully you can see that asking questions in a non-confrontational manner will result in much more consideration being given to what you are asking and what you have to say.
This non-confrontational method of asking questions is demonstrated in the resource links below. Remember, we are trying to be persuasive not offensive. As Greg Koukl says,
“The Gospel message is offensive enough. It doesn’t need us to help in the offense. We need to make sure it is the Gospel and not our conduct that is offensive, but we dare not leave the Gospel message out.”
Ambassadors for Christ – Greg Koukl
A very important presentation showing how our character can affect the impression others have of Christ, and the first audio in the Ambassador Basic Curriculum series.
http://vimeo.com/13049510 (video - shorter)
http://christianaudio.com/ambassadors-for-christ-gregory-koukl (audio - longer)
This is free, but you will probably still need to click Buy Now and then Checkout.
Ambassador Basic Curriculum - Greg Koukl
Greg’s full self-study curriculum on being an ambassador – for purchase
Greg Koukl demonstrates aspects of this very effective technique, in the following excellent YouTube video.
How to Defend the Faith without Sounding Defensive
Bad Arguments Against Christianity
The Intolerance of Tolerance – Greg Koukl
When Tolerance Is Intolerant - Greg Koukl
Check out additional examples on the STR videos channel
That's Just Your Opinion
Is That Just Your Opinion?
Tactics in Defending the Faith - Greg Koukl - Pt.1/2
Full Firefighters For Christ audio catalog of 100's of audio recordings:
Tactics In Defending The Faith – Video Training Series
Part 1 - Learning the "Columbo" Tactic
Part 2 - Refining the "Columbo" Tactic
Part 3 - Perfecting the "Columbo" Tactic
Part 4 - The "Suicide" Tactic
Part 5 - The "Taking the Roof Off" Tactic
Part 6 - The "Steamroller" Tactic
Faith Under Fire – Greg Koukl using Tactics methods representing Christianity with Deepak Chopra representing Hinduism
The Big Religion Chart
Every School - A great website designed to equip students to reach the students on their campus
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