We’re in the middle of a several-week series called Topical Tuesdays, where you pick the topic and I make up answers.  You can add your topic / question to the list by commenting on this post.  Today’s question was submitted by a reader known as “That Guy.”  Or maybe that’s really his name, in which case his parents were probably hippies.

What is the church’s or your view on equipping the saints in the areas of doctrine, apologetic, opposing worldviews, etc. outside of the Saturday/Sunday worship service?

I have two areas in mind: 1 Peter 3:15 along with the contextualization Paul uses to talk philosophically & apologetically with the Athenians in Acts 17.

I love the fact that you brought up both of these passages in the context of this question, because both passages speak to the healthiest view of engaging culture.  There are three good things to remember as you are sharing the gospel with unbelievers:

  1. Watch for God-ordained opportunities.  Peter’s mandate in 1 Peter 3 is that we make the most of every opportunity.  That means the random encounters on aisle 12 at Food Lion and across the table at Starbucks, but it also means listening actively for how God is working in the lives of friends and family members.  I’m a firm believer that God is always at work in people’s lives whether they realize it or not.  Part of our role is to help people bring context to what God is doing and that he has a grand plan for them.
  2. Be a Christian without being a jerk.  I cringe when listening to most gospel presentations, because that’s what most are: a presentation.  They allow for little dialogue and focus almost exclusively on “you listen as I present all the answers.”  I think the best way of sharing the gospel is by sharing life with others.  Listen for their objections, listen for their pain, listen for their questions.  If we go in with gospel guns blazing, we are not fulfilling the role of salt and light to which we’ve been called.
  3. Focus less on your argument and more on scripture. Sure, there are plenty of flags that our friends will throw that can be blasted theologically, but at what cost?  I find that it’s better to continue to drive back to the truth of scripture.  That doesn’t mean that we avoid their questions (see #2) but that we don’t get bogged down in who Adam and Eve’s kids married (my theory: it probably has something to do with some character from Lost).

I went into more detail on this subject over on the Brier Creek Campus blog when we talked about Randy Newman’s great book Questioning Evangelism. I commend both that book and that series of posts to your further study.

Next week: How did you decide you wanted to be a Connections Pastor when you grew up?