Is sharing the gospel a monologue or a dialogue?
I submit that it is impossible to share the gospel in a relational way if you are committed to a monologue approach.
If we believe the gospel is the power of God, why do we often isolate ourselves in Christians bubbles? Could it be that we are intimidated to share our faith because we lack confidence in the gospel?
It is because I believe the Christian worldview provides a superior explanation of reality that I don’t see a reason to shirk back from dialoging with others.
The Monologue Approach
A. Primary focus is on talking
B. Demands a decision at end of presentation
C. Commitment is to the presentation event
The Dialogue Approach
A. The primary focus is the relationship.
B. The decision to follow Christ is not limited to a specific time or place.
C. The relationship is built around a shared commitment to each other.
TIPS for transitioning from a monologue to a dialogue approach of sharing the gospel:
1.) Build relationships with people who hold different beliefs.
It’s really okay to be friends with people who are not Christians. Obviously we have deeper relationships with people we share the most in common with, however I’m not sure how anyone could study the life of Jesus and honestly feel justified in only connecting with other Christians. After all, he was a friend of “sinners.”
2.) Sincerely care about people who have different beliefs.
If your interest in building a relationship with a non believer is solely based on them following Christ, then you will move on if they fail to see things your way. Let your care for them transcend any commitment they may or may not make. Don’t see witnessing as a notch you can put on your “soul winning” belt.
3.) Be extremely open about your beliefs. (Don’t pull a Joel Osteen just to win their acceptance)
You don’t like it when people are less than honest with you. Don’t water down your convictions in order to make anyone feel more comfortable. In the end people will respect you more if you are forthright.
4.) Be transparent about your doubts.
Some people might not like this, but I think it is necessary in building authentic bridges with non believers. If we truly expect others to make themselves vulnerable and evaluate their worldviews, then we must be willing to be equally transparent. This does not mean you make up doubts in order to connect, it just means that you should be open about questions that you might not have a satisfactory answer to yet.
5.) Place yourself in intentional environments that are conducive to conversations with strangers.
My love for coffee shops really does go beyond my addiction to caffeine. Casual environments like Starbucks provide ample opportunities to kick off a conversation with someone new. Bookstores are great too. However, the best way I’ve found to begin new relationships is by participating in an evangelistic ministry. As a part of the campus church I do not have any option but to be on campus meeting students from first year freshmen to international PhD students. Find a ministry that is on the front lines and plug in.
Jay Leno does monologues.
Jesus does dialogues.
Check it out for yourselves in the gospels: Nicodemus – dialogue, Rich young ruler – dialogue, woman at the well – dialogue, and the list goes on.
It’s a lot easier to stand at a mic and talk. Building relationships, fielding questions, and nurturing conversations takes time.
But If we aren’t willing to make such commitments can we ever think we will contribute to fulfilling the Great Commission?