Earlier in my life I was a professional tennis coach for fourteen years. And I can assure you no beginner ever took a lesson or series of lessons with the expectation of becoming an accomplished player in that brief time. To play well requires some basic instruction and lots and lots of practice.
Spiritual conversations are very similar to playing tennis in that it takes time and practice to grow in competence and confidence.
In the specific arena of answering objections, we learn from others and we learn through practice. And it should be noted that answering objections in real time is an inexact science, because spiritual conversations are like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get. For you and me, none of us ever arrives, so growing is the goal no matter how competent or incompetent we may feel.
With that said, as we anticipate basic objections and questions about the Christian faith, it will help to have what we might call a ‘coffee shop’ response. A ‘coffee shop’ answer is a simple answer that can keep the conversation centered on the topic at hand and move the dialogue along.
Click here for five common objections to Christianity and ‘coffee shop’ answers to each.
In addition, click here for an excellent link to brief answers for many other standard objections.
There are excellent resources that can also provide in-depth responses to honest inquirers who want and need a more thorough response than we can initially provide. There are great Christian apologists and thinkers who deal with these and many other objections with skill and depth. For example, Norm Geisler and Jason Jimenez authored a book entitled “The Bible’s Answers to 100 of Life’s Biggest Questions.” As you ponder the question(s) posed, be prayerful, asking the Lord to lead you to the appropriate follow-up resource – article, dvd, book, or youtube/Godtube link.
When pondering answers to objections, brevity is our friend. Jesus’ parable of the soils in the Gospel (Luke 8:4-15, Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20) sheds light on the reality that evangelism is a process. As we answer objections within spiritual conversations, we are simply planting seed or watering soil that already has seed within it.
Think about sowing and watering in the physical.
In sowing seed, there must be enough space for that seed to grow. Sowing to much seed at one time may actually be counterproductive. A reasonable amount of water is necessary for growth of seeds in a garden, as in a light summer shower or controlled watering. But a deluge from a big storm or a fire hydrant will wash the seed away. Water is good. Too much water – not so much.
When answering objections, in a spiritual sense we’re providing bread and water. Don’t overdo the process – give a hungry person a piece of bread and a thirsty person a glass of water. This takes practice and discernment. Learning and growing also involve trial and error…and more trial and error. And God is faithful. For He will grow this area of our witness as we commit our way to Him.
As you listen, study, learn, and practice, you can and will grow in your ability to give a ‘word aptly spoken.’
So don’t run from questions and objections – prepare for and anticipate them. And in providing answers, do so with a spirit of love characterized by gentleness and respect…for the glory of God and for the building of His Kingdom.
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” 1 Peter 3:15