How to Talk to Non-Christians about Faith
Southern Evangelical Seminary Has Focused on Apologetics Education for 27 Years, as Barna Releases New Findings About Faith Conservations
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—For more than a quarter of a century, Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES, www.ses.edu) has focused on teaching Christians to talk to others about their faith, defend their beliefs and stand up for the truth of Christ.
Now, a new Barna survey delves into what non-believers are looking for when they engage in conversations about faith.
SES President Dr. Richard Land says these insights will help all Christians better communicate with non-Christians about why they are Christ-followers and why a life with Jesus is better than any other path.
“Southern Evangelical Seminary has always focused on helping Christians to defend the faith intelligently, rationally and lovingly,” Land said. “A harsh reality is that not all Christians subscribe to the ‘lovingly’ part. If we want to lead our non-believing friends and family members to Christ, we must go about it as Jesus did.”
For the study, Barna reported that “a growing secularization and a waning interest in religious matters have contributed to tension in faith conversations today.” The survey found that nearly all non-Christians, who either identify with a faith other than Christianity or no faith at all, as well as lapsed Christians, who identify as Christian but have not attended church within the past month, have a friend or family member who practices and prioritizes Christianity.
The concerning finding is that non-Christians don’t necessarily want to have faith conversations with the believers in their life. For instance, more than six in 10 (62 percent) say they would be open to talking about faith matters with someone who listens without judgment, but only one-third (34 percent) sees this trait in the Christians they know personally. Similarly, they hope to talk to Christians who do not force conclusions (50 percent), but only about a quarter of the Christians they know do this (26 percent). Non-Christians also want to talk to those who demonstrate interest in other people’s stories (29 percent) and are good at asking questions (27 percent), but the Christians they know largely don’t display these qualities (17 and 16 percent, respectively).
“As Christians, we need to do better,” Land said. “A deep problem exists if those we want to lead to Christ don’t want to talk to us about His love, grace and salvation. We need not only to have the answers to their questions, but to demonstrate to them that we care about them and that we want only God’s best for them. It has often been said, ‘People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.’”
Read more about the Barna study here.
Discussions about topics just like these and how they relate to apologetics and the defense of the Christian faith often make their way into SES’s on-campus and online curriculum. For 27 years, SES has existed to equip students and ministry leaders to share the Gospel from an intelligent, informed and rational biblical worldview. Courses, conferences, seminars, guest speakers and more seek to accomplish this longstanding mission. Central to this purpose is the provision of a biblical basis and an academic understanding of believers’ commitment to Christ. Therefore, SES seeks to provide an educational opportunity where the Christian worldview is both a framework for thinking and a dynamic for living.
Read more about Southern Evangelical Seminary and SES President Dr. Richard Land and his radio feature here. For more information on SES, visit its website at www.ses.edu or its Facebook page, follow the SES Twitter feed, @sesapologetics, or call (800) 77-TRUTH.