Five Things Every Christian Should Know - Number 5

One of the most anticipated Summer events for members of my youth group as a kid was Super Summer. Every year during the hottest part of the summer, we would load up an jalopy church van and make the two-hour journey to Kansas City so we could cram into an undersized (also unairconditioned) auditorium with a few thousand of our closest friends. We rocked out to loud music, chanted "We love Jesus yes we do, we love Jesus how 'bout you?" until it reached a fevered pitch, and listened to a motivational speaker get us fired up for the obligatory two-week life change that every camper is bound to produce. Good times.

One year at Super Summer (isn't that the way all good stories are supposed to start?), the theme was "Evangelism." Throughout the week, we were taught a modified version of the "Roman Road" to salvation and pointed questions that were intended to help us turn any conversation to a conversation about spiritual things. It was supposed to go something like this:

Friend: "Hey man, did you watch the Cowboys on Sunday?"
Me: "Yea. Hey, do you believe in God?"
Friend: "I guess. The Cowboys were pretty awful huh?"
Me: "Yea they were. Who is Jesus to you?"
Friend: "I don't know, I was hoping you could tell me."
Me: "I'd love to. Take out your Bible and turn to Romans 3:23"
Friend: "Okay. I happen to have the KJV and NIV in my bookbag, which would you prefer?"
Me: "Whichever you would like. Romans 3:23 says we're all sinners."
Friend: "No doubt about that."
Me: "Romans 6:23 says we owe God death, but God sent His Son as our gift. Is there anything keeping you from trusting in Christ right now?"
Friend: "I can't think of any."
Me: "Great. Let's pray and thank God for your salvation right now."

After learning this method, they turned us loose on fellow campers so we could practice evangelizing each other. I'm not going to lie; I was a master evangelist that week. I led more fake people to fake professions of faith in Christ than Billy Graham could shake a stick at. People were swarming to the fake altar after my presentations. This was easy.

By the end of the week I was ready to take on my entire high school. I reasoned that with three years left in high school, I could average ten conversions a week no problem. Ten conversions times fifty weeks (one off for Christmas and Spring Break each... I planned to keep going during the Summer) all of Rock Bridge High School would be won over before I graduated. After all, how hard could it be?

The church bus rolled back into Columbia, Missouri and I hit the pavement looking for my first opportunity, which came the next day. I worked on swinging a conversation that started on the topic of baseball. Somehow it seemed easier at camp, but I wasn't dissuaded. Then I worked through the Roman Road, which had developed potholes over the 24-hour period since I had last traveled it, in part because the guy I was sharing with hadn't remembered to bring his Bible to our conversation. But we made it down the road, and I was ready to "close the deal."

"Is there anything keeping you from trusting Christ right now?" I asked.

"Yes." He replied.

The silence that followed lasted at least 45 minutes.

Finally, I got the courage to squeak out, "What would that be?"

"Well, I just can't believe that there's a God out there who loves us so much He sent His Son to die for us, but who doesn't love us enough to keep bad stuff from happening to us here." He said.

That certainly hadn't happened at camp. So I did what any right-minded, sane, Christian evangelist would do:

I changed the conversation back to baseball.

Every Christian needs to learn basic apologetics - a basic defense of the Christian faith (1 Peter 3:15). It isn't a faith based on blind leaps and uncertain guesses; it's a faith based on Truth, and rooted in fact. But that doesn't mean that there aren't tough questions out there. And many of our unbelieving friends and neighbors are asking those questions.

How can a loving God send people to hell? Why doesn't a good God stop the evil in the world? Are miracles really possible? These are all good questions that we as Christians don't need to be scared of. Furthermore, if truth is on our side (and it is), we should be eager to seek answers to difficult questions because they will always lead us back to the God in whom we believe.

There's a degree to which all Christians should be comfortable with the unknowable: to accept that there is an unfathomable God in heaven Who is bigger than us is to accept that there are certain things we will never know. But that shouldn't ever be an excuse for not searching for the answers to questions we are able to know.

Many of the questions unbelievers are asking are questions that believers should have asked a long time ago because the answers give us glimpses into the character and nature of God. The question of evil in contrast to a good God is a question about the character of God. We should be ready to defend that character when the question comes up.

There are several good books out there to get you started. The most popular are by Lee Strobel or Josh McDowell. My favorite, however, is a book by Kenneth Boa and Larry Moody called "I'm Glad You Asked." These authors have determined that there are only 12 questions that skeptics ask, although these questions show up in a variety of different forms. This book attempts to answer these questions from a Biblical perspective. Some of the chapters are a little heady, especially when the authors tackle issues dealing with science, but the information is solid and worth reading.

I truly believe that if you don't know why you believe what you believe, you really don't know what you believe.


NateTheGreat said...

WoW, this is a VERY POWERFUL POST! I just want to say Thank you for being obedient to the Spirit and writing such a long Post because i was sitting her trying to come up with a subject to teach on this month for my PRETEENS sunday school class and HERE YOU HAVE IT! HOW TO BE AN EVANGELIST AMONGST FRIENDS! Man I will Frequent your BLOG now... i havent Blogged in over a year but As a minister of the Gospel i think it is safe to visit your Blog. And you went to school in Columbia, MO and now live in TX? I went to School in Lubbock, TX and now live in St. Robert, MO! God bless us BOTH, INDEED!

Thank you and God Bless

BlueNight said...


There are too many Christians with too many pat answers, who have been taught to regard any derivation from the Roman Road as a sign of a stone-cold heart, or the devil's work.

I've offered to be a practice unbeliever for evangelization practice at church. So far nobody's taken me up on the offer. I can pretend to be a materialist atheist, an Eastern-inspired humanist, or an apathetic agnostic.

Learning what others believe, from their perspective, is vital to an evangelist's work. Learning the answers to the tough questions is good preparation. Learning to love is the only way to win hearts.