Terminology when witnessing

Discussion in 'Missions / Witnessing / eVangelism' started by Gina B, Jun 17, 2004.

  1. Gina B

    Gina B
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    For us Christians there are certain words and phrases that we are familiar with and use on a regular basis.
    For the unsaved, they often have not heard of these words and if so, aren't familiar with the definition or the way in which we're using them.
    For example, how much understanding will someone unfamiliar with the bible and church have of the sentence "We need to be born again, cleansed from our unrighteousness by the shed blood of Jesus".

    To someone who doesn't know the language this sentence is weird and a bit scary.
    Do you think of these things when you're talking to unbelievers and if so, how do you explain things in a simple way that is easily understood?

    Gina
     
  2. Squire Robertsson

    Squire Robertsson
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    This especially good to remember wheh you are dealing with people who simplely do not know your particular dialect of ecclesiastical English. Many of the terms and jargon we use may have been in common currency two generations ago. Now, we are dealing with folks who through no fault of their own don't know Genesis from Revelation much less the meaning of subsitutionary atonement. ;)
     
  3. Marcia

    Marcia
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    Since a lot of the people I deal with and witness to through my ministry are turned off by phrases like "born-again" and even "sin," I've had to be creative in the way I dialogue with them. Many of them have been in churches but had negative experiences, were in legalistic churches that alienated them, or in dead churches.

    I usually start by asking about who they think God is. Of course, I sm usually responding to an email so they are bringing up the spiritual issues. I also ask about their "spiritual background" because that helps me understand where they are coming from. And if it's Christian in any way, I ask why they have rejected Christianity.

    Often it turns out they do not understand the gospel, as they will say things like, "I don't believe in organized religion," "church is just a place with a bunch of rules you have to follow," "the minister tells you what to believe," etc., etc. That gives me an opportunity to explain what church is (the body of believers in Christ) and how we can't be good by doing good works.

    I'm careful not to quote the Bible because to these people that appears smug and superior. However, I might say, "Jesus said that. . ." Most people are open to talking about Jesus, which is good, even though they may think he's just an enlightened teacher or very loving person.

    I ask a lot of questions -- for people in the New Age, Wicca, and other occult areas it works well. If you listen to people, they are more likely to listen to what you have to say.

    I also agree that it's best to avoid "Christianese" when talking to someone unless it's someone who thinks they are a Christian but is not sure, like someone in a church who has not been born again.

    I have also found that it's good not to back off from questions like, "Do you believe people go to hell who don't believe in Christ," because they will lose respect for you if you waffle or are wishy-washy.

    I think the best teacher for this is Jesus! I love to study how he talked to the woman at the well and to others that came to believe Him. He was always to the point but in a loving way (with these people).
     
  4. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    There is certainly a lot of Christianeze that you can avoid when sharing your faith and the gospel with others ... and indeed you should avoid terms that people don't understand. However, we need to make sure that we don't soft peddle the truth, particularly sin. I would be very hesitant not to use the word "sin." I don't think we need to avoid that. EVeryone understands it, and so there is no need to avoid it.
     
  5. Marcia

    Marcia
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    Pastor Larry, I agree we should not soft-pedal the gospel or sin, but it's not true that everyone understands sin the way they should if you use that word. In the New Age, and in our culture, it has been redefined to several things:
    1. Being out of harmony with one's self
    2. Not having love (this is according to the Course in Miracles which is an idea that has become very popular)
    3. Does not exist since we are basically good

    I usually work up to it by asking things. For example, if the person believes in reincarnation, I ask if they believe that is necessary so they can spiritually evolve or grow. They usually say yes. Then I point out that means they must not be perfect and they usually agree. From there, I go on to discuss why we are not perfect, that only God is, and that we can never measure up to that. Only the HS can convict them of this, but I try to prod their thinking.

    Or I will talk about who God is and tell someone that we are basically selfish and we want to do things our way, that we cannot naturally want to do things God's way. Since their concept of God is not Biblical, the concept of sin makes no sense to them.

    I want to make sure to present who God is first, and why we fall short of His standard. That can then lead into a discussion of sin and why Jesus came.

    This kind of dialogue has lots of variations, of course, depending on the person and how far they want to go with it.
     
  6. Servent

    Servent
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    John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him Verily verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.

    These are the words Jesus used when He spoke to Nicodemus, if they were correct for Him to use I believe I will stick with them.
     

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