Dreading those awkward family dinners this Christmas season? Unsure about how to tactfully bring up the real reason for Christmas? Here are the Top Ten ways to advance the Gospel at Holiday Dinners:
- Pray: Start praying now for opportunities and for hearts to be open. Then volunteer to pray before the meal (No one will interrupt or critique a prayer!). Keep the prayer short and thank God for:
- Your family members and guests by name
- The food
- Coming to earth that first Christmas in the person of Jesus to pay for our sins and to offer forgiveness and salvation for free to anyone who trusts in Christ. (After all, if ever there was a time when people expect you talk about Jesus it’s during a prayer on the day, we celebrate his birthday! Right?)
- Serve: Get off the couch and serve people as if you were a real Christian!
- Ask: Seriously ask people how they’ve been doing this year. Then ask them, “Is there anything I can pray for you about?” If something about Christianity comes up, the three most important questions you can ask are these:
- Do you consider yourself a Christian?
- Why are you not a Christian?
- If Christianity were true, would you become a Christian? (I’ve found that many people are on a happiness quest rather than a truth quest. They don’t want God to exist because they think He might get in the way of their pursuit of “happiness.” This question will tell you if they are really open or not.)
- Listen (and testify if given the opportunity): If they ask you how you’ve been doing, fold in a story of how God is working. If they don’t ask you, keep listening and asking them what they are up to. If people only want to talk about themselves, let them.
- Use Tactical Questions When They Get Something Wrong: When people make truth claims, it’s not your job to refute them—it is their job to support them. So before responding to their statements, ask these questions.
- What do you mean by that?
- How did you come to that conclusion? (Or what evidence do you have for that?)
- Have you ever considered…? (Complete the sentence with the evidence you would like the person to consider).
- Seed the conversation: Here are some common objections to Christianity they might bring up, with possible responses you might make to seed the conversation (after you ask them the tactical questions above):
- Hypocrites: True, but the church is a hospital for sinners. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t need a Savior.
- Exclusive: Do you think God should force people into Heaven against their will?
- Atheism: I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.
- Science: Science doesn’t say anything: scientists do.
- Miracles: Even atheists admit the universe began to exist out of nothing. Since there’s evidence for the greatest miracle in the Bible (Genesis 1:1), then every other miracle is at least possible.
- Conspiracy: What motive did the Jewish New Testament writers have to make up a new religion? They already thought they were God’s chosen people, and they were persecuted for saying the Resurrection occurred?
- Errors in the Bible: Where? Even if you’re right, does that mean Jesus didn’t rise from the dead? Christianity originated not with a book but with an event—the Resurrection. Why would Jews write the New Testament documents if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead?
- Evil: What do you mean by evil? It can only exist if Good exists, which means if evil exists then God exists.
- They have multiple objections and aren’t listening to your answers: If Christianity were true, would you become a Christian?
- Agree & Affirm whatever they get right. It will make points of disagreement more acceptable.
- Use the Quick Answers section of the CrossExamined App to be ready to respond to specific objections (over 177,000 downloads so far!). You can find more robust responses to the objections above and others in my latest book, Stealing From God: Why Atheists need God to make their case and the DVD set by the same name.
- Show them what makes your walk easier: You Version Bible, The Amazing Bible Project Videos, CrossExamined App (people love gadgets, short clarifying videos, and apps).
- Write them afterwards: Following up on a conversation later via email can be very effective. That’s because you can present your ideas more clearly and completely while the other person can actually consider what you are saying without feeling the pressure of having to respond immediately. You can also include links to articles or websites for those that want to go deeper.
Above all, show the kind of grace and unconditional acceptance to others that Jesus has shown to you. You might be the only true ambassador for Jesus they will see this Christmas.
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A prophecy about Jesus written by Isaiah 700 years in advance:
For to us, a child is born, to us, a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace, there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. ―Isaiah 9:6-7
Be Jesus to people this Christmas!
Dr. Frank Turek (D.Min.) is an award-winning author and frequent college speaker who hosts a weekly TV show on DirectTV and a radio program that airs on 186 stations around the nation. His books include I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist and Stealing from God: Why atheists need God to make their case
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Get the first chapter of "Stealing From God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case" in PDF.