We’re often afraid that someone will ask us a tough question that we don’t have the answer to, and that we will either look foolish or poorly represent Christianity. There are three important things you should know if this is a hang-up for you:
- It’s IMPOSSIBLE TO have all the answers:
No matter how much you study, how many seminars you attend or podcasts you watch or even how many degrees you accumulate, you can never be prepared for every situation or every concern that may come up. It’s a good idea to learn when you can, and we learn best when someone stumps us (that’s way more motivation than a theoretical “someday”). EveryStudent.com is a good place to look for answers, and even ask an expert online if you don’t see what you’re looking for.
- It’s GOOD NOT TO have all the answers:
“That’s a good question. I don’t know the answer, but I’d love the chance to look into it and get back to you.” Maybe it was different in the modernist generation (though I kind of doubt it), but today people don’t respond to facts, they respond to people. I don’t want to sit at your feet and drink from the fount of wisdom. I want to walk a path of discovery with other human beings. When you acknowledge the other person as saying something new, you validate them as adding to the conversation as peers. It makes you more relatable and gives you the opportunity to have another meeting with them.
- It’s NOT YOUR JOB TO have all the answers:
In Cru, we say that successful evangelism is “going out, in the power of the Holy Spirit, sharing the truth in love and leaving the results to God.” You are not unsuccessful for failing to study more, but you are unsuccessful if you try to do it in your own power. We should try to learn as we grow in Christ, but Jesus Himself said that the right words would not come from us, but from the Holy Spirit (Luke 12:11-12). Thinking we’re prepared (“I’ve got this”) can actually be a barrier to letting the Holy Spirit lead us, and people will be more astounded when God’s wisdom comes from a humble heart (Acts 4:13).
One Possible Objection
Some may say, what about 1 Peter 3:15 that says to “always be prepared to give an answer?” That’s a good point, and it brings up an excellent extra lesson for sharing the gospel.
What Peter says we should be prepared to answer is, “why do you have hope?” He says this in the midst of telling us how God can use our suffering for good. When we live with our eyes fixed on Jesus, people will see us as different. When we go through hard times that we didn’t bring on ourselves, people will see us persevering in hope and that will REALLY set us apart.
That’s when they ask, “why do you have hope.” Be prepared! With what? With your testimony, with the story of how God has changed your life and given you hope!
Ask a friend or family member, “could we sit down sometime so I can hear about your thoughts and experiences about spiritual stuff? I’d love to share mine with you as well.” When you do have that conversation, be ready to ask good questions and listen well. Then, tell them your story and be sure to include how the Bible says they can know God personally.