When we don't have all the information in a situation, we naturally fill in the blanks with our own understanding and experiences. That's completely natural. But sometimes it leads us to conclusions that aren't helpful.
We've put together a few assumptions about non-Christians that can make sharing our faith a challenge. When we genuinely want to understand the people around us, it makes it so much easier to share the gospel in a way that resonates.
Here are three conclusions that can impair our ability to share our faith.
1. Assuming a basic understanding of Christianity
There was a time when you could expect a baseline cultural understanding of Christianity, but that time has passed. Most people can't name half of the Ten Commandments, and a Barna Group survey found that 12 percent of adults believe that Joan of Arc was Noah's wife.
For those raised in the church, it's easy to assume everyone around you has at least an entry-level understanding of the Christian faith. So when we try to share our faith, we're more focused on explaining why they should believe it than helping others understand what it is to follow Jesus. Sometimes the work lies in reframing their misunderstandings about what Christians believe.
Before we can help someone understand the Christian faith, we need to understand their foundation. If we don't know where they're coming from, we can be having two different conversations without realizing it. The great thing is that as we seek to understand others, we develop trust with them.
2. Assuming their main concern is life after death
A lot of times, we approach sharing our faith with a "do you know where you’re going when you die" mindset. But for a lot of people, death is a topic that gets shoved off to the periphery. They've got pressing issues and problems consuming a lot of their emotional bandwidth. If faith is presented as something that's primarily focused on life after death, it's easy to push it off as something to be dealt with later.
Most people are looking for solutions to their everyday struggles. Thankfully, Jesus is, too! Throughout His ministry, Jesus wanted people to understand that the kingdom of God had come. Following Him has benefits and implications that impact our lives today. We can't neglect to share with people how reconciliation with God improves their everyday experience.
After all, eternal life begins the moment they choose to follow Jesus.
3. Assuming their struggles are all the same
Jesus didn't treat everyone the same. He always responded appropriately to the situation. Even with the Pharisees, He responded in different ways. Sometimes He was confrontational, and sometimes He had deep conversations (John 3:1–21). Jesus answered specific questions and responded to situations in unique ways.
Evangelistic methods can be helpful, but we need to recognize that people come to the gospel with their own questions and struggles. If we're too quick to fall back on the methods or arguments we’re comfortable with, we miss opportunities to address the legitimate and unique conflicts they have. When we assume that everyone has the same desires, questions, or hurts, we end up sharing our faith in ways that don't connect.
Getting to know others
Asking questions to understand others better is an essential element of sharing our faith. When we put in the work to understand others, we honor them. This is how trust is established, and having a foundation of trust makes people so much more willing to hear about how Jesus has changed our life. To learn more about reaching the lost, check out this article.
All Scripture references quote the New International Version unless otherwise noted.