Evangelism Challenge: Why Are You A Christian?

evangelism-challenge

(Carson Weitnauer) #1

Hi friends,

Let’s say that sometime this week a friend asks you, “why are you a Christian?” How would you respond?

Two ways to respond to this challenge:

  1. Respond right now! Test yourself; how well could you answer this question without any additional preparation?
  2. Take your time. Pray, research, and think about your answer. Then, come back and share what you would say.

In your answer, tell us:

  1. The kind of person you have in mind (a lapsed christian, a skeptic, a Buddhist).
  2. What you would say if they asked? Keep it short - under 450 words. For most people, that’s about a three minute answer in casual conversation.

Full credit: this challenge was inspired by J. Warner Wallace from his book Forensic Faith!


(Dave Kenny) #2

Usually, I’m an ‘answer a question with another question’ kind of guy, but I’ll jump in on this challenge and try the “respond right now” approach… I think I got it in about 200 words! (although, most of my assertions will require further discussion!)

I would very quickly mention my testimony. In my case, my response might go something like this:

I was raised in a Christian home. At 15 years old, an overwhelming need for my belief systems (my faith) to be RIGHT suddenly became extremely important to me. Just because mom and dad said so was no longer good enough for me. I spent two years (in high school) learning about logic, truth testing and analysis of other worldviews and quickly discovered the incredible sufficiency of the Christian faith in this regard, and found it very exciting. I dedicated everything I had to it since then. As I’ve matured, I have required more from my worldview than just the cold hard reality of its truthfulness… and I have not been disappointed. It is challenging, inspiring, all emcompassing, historically unique, cosmically profound and philosophically limitless… of course it is… its God! In matters of science, art, pain, ethics, relationships, history, life, death, miracles, consciousness… the explanatory power of God and specifically Christ is Awesome (in the classical sense). What pursuit could be better! Why God? There is no greater pursuit available on the market… why Christianity? Well, I was convinced by history… since then, the relationship that I have enjoyed with God… the one I was pursuing… has satisfied every desire and grown new ones into me.

This starting point wouldn’t be discriminate on the type of person that I was speaking to (although it isn’t quite the word choice that I would use for children… the content would remain the same).

Dave


(Tim Ramey) #3

@CarsonWeitnauer, I am tight for time but I read your post and love the question and then was inspired by @Dave_Kenny reply. By the way, I believe that it was it was @Helen_Tan that mentioned a YouTube talk by J. Warner Wallace that was excellent. It was called, “Why Jesus” and was about 2 hours long but it was riveting, I’d encourage for anyone who hasn’t seen it, to view it.

Onto the question as to why I am a Christian.

I’m not Scriptural when I say this but the Proverb that speaks of training a child in the ways of the Lord did not apply to me but I was actually grateful because when I came to know Jesus, I knew that it wasn’t because I was told it was true, but rather, I came to personally know that He was and is the Truth.I don’t wish to offend anyone, but I was raised in a Catholic home but in my home, the issue was Catholicism but it had nothing to do with Jesus. Scripture was only required reading as a punishment. I lived a block away from the church and, as it was left always open, as a teenager, I would sit in the dark church and want to know who God was.

The Lord was faithful to me and He coordinated life to work together to coming to know Him. I met my wife to be when she was 17 years old and she was a believer, I loved talking about what was true and she brought up Jesus. Shortly after this, I decided to travel to all 48 continental states for college credit, only to be issued after the trip if my profs thought that it was duly earned.

It was the early 70’s so I could hitchhike and it was a time of the Jesus revolution. In addition to this, Nancy, my wife-to be, gave me a Good News for Modern Man Bible. I asked her why I would want to read what only served as penance? The Bible, along with deep conversations along my journey, coupled with the varied beauty of my country that I discovered was the work of a Creator, all came together and Jesus met me…Particularly, the Scriptures spoke to me profoundly. I knew I had found the Truth. All of the other worldviews, that I had no background to, struck me as off. I was even at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City and, being alone, I was constantly being “ministered” to… Yet, with no knowledge of the Bible, Mormonism just didn’t sit right with me.

Even before I knew Him, the Holy Spirit was ministering to me because I wanted to know the Truth, Wanting to know truth is a perquisite to discovering it. Just because I know that I know that I know Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life does not make for a good defense of it, Yet, it is imperative that I know it personally to be the Truth before I can tell others about it.

Believe me, this is the cliff note version of my story. More followed that tested my belief but it only underscored the truth,


(Melvin Greene) #4

So, why am I a Christian, huh? Well that’s a good and fair question.

I was raised in a Christian home. My parents were good Christian parents, and they took my sister and brother and myself to church 3 times a week; twice on Sunday and once on Wednesday. It was ok for awhile, but as I came into my teenage years, I started to question the validity of Christianity. It seemed nothing more than a bunch of rules, and laws that seemed unreasonable and unrealistic in the world as I understood it. I mean seriously, turn the other cheek? Love your enemy? What kind of mamby pamby stuff is that? I’m not going to be treated like someone’s door mat! That’s not what a real man is supposed to be. A real man is supposed to be rugged, tough, strong, capable of handling any situation. You wouldn’t dare slap him in the face, because there wouldn’t be any of that turn the other cheek business. That was the kind of man I wanted to be, and Christianity didn’t fit into my worldview at all. So, I joined the Army after high school, and that’s the kind of life I lived. Eventually, I became disillusioned and dissatisfied with Army life and entered civilian life. But, I couldn’t seem to find any fulfillment, or satisfaction. I would go from job to job, but it was all the same. I met a woman and fell in love. I thought that maybe this was what I was missing, so I married her. Unfortunately, I found out that she couldn’t fill this hole that I felt inside either. It seemed that neither one of us knew how to love each other, and we ended up getting a divorce. I was angry and lonely. I remember during these years of living life my way that certain thoughts would intrude upon my mind, usually in the dark of night when I was lying awake in bed; thoughts like, “Could there be a God out there somewhere?” “What about Jesus?” “Was he just a man, or was he God?” I thought that if there was a God, he probably didn’t want to have anything to do with me. I don’t think I was ever truly an atheist. I suspected there probably was a God, and he probably hated me, so I didn’t want anything to do with him. But the thoughts about Jesus really nagged at me. If Jesus was nothing more than some religious zealot who lived 2,000 years ago, how is it that we tell time by his birth and death? Why do I, and everyone else use his name as a swear word? We don’t do that with any other religious leader in history. What about his disciples? If Jesus was crucified on a Roman cross and buried in a tomb, why would his disciples give up everything, including their lives for a lie? No human being would do that. They wouldn’t knowingly give up their lives for a lie. They had to have believed that Jesus was resurrected, and they had to have seen him to believe that. Eventually, I ended up reading “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis, and it all started to make sense to me. The more I read about Jesus and the evidence of his resurrection, the more clear it became. Also, the more I discovered about Christianity, the more sense that made as well. Eventually I did turn my life over to Christ. Nothing makes more sense of the world, and nothing answers the big questions that every person seems to ask, better than Christianity. Since Christ entered my life, everything has changed, I’m not angry all the time, and I see people differently. I even understand that whole turn the other cheek and love your enemies thing.


(Jimmy Sellers) #5

Christianity is the only belief system that I have found that satisfies the great questions of life. Where did we come from, why are we here, what is truth, what happens after we die? Granted these questions aren’t necessarily innate or obvious but I have found that life will force you to consider them. All the other belief systems that I am aware of and have given study to don’t even come close to an answer. I can tell you that if you should bring me conclusive evidence that Jesus Christ was not who he said he was and still is, the Way, the Truth, the Life I will be the first to leave the faith.


(Carson Weitnauer) #6

Hi @Dave_Kenny, excellent!! One question: do you think there’s a risk in saying, “At 15 years old, an overwhelming need for my belief systems (my faith) to be RIGHT suddenly became extremely important to me.”

Perhaps the impression is, “Well, it sounds like your adolescent need for certainty latched onto Christianity, which offers dogma and absolutes. Perhaps this overwhelming need kept you from remaining appropriately agnostic and curious?”

@Tim_Ramey, this is a beautiful testimony.

Do you think there is a risk in someone saying:

Interesting. I’ll bet if you were raised in Salt Lake City, your testimony would sound like this: I was raised in a Catholic home, but it was just religion. Sometimes I would sent in the local temple and want to know who God was. God revealed himself to me when I met my wife to be at 17. She brought up Jesus. After I traveled around the country, Nancy gave me The Book of Mormon. As I saw the beauty of what God had made and read Joseph Smith’s revelations, I knew I had found the truth. Even when I went to evangelical churches, I knew something was off. The Holy Spirit was ministering to me because I wanted to know the Truth.

@Melvin_Greene, it is really encouraging to hear how God has been faithful to you through so many struggles. Do you think someone might hear this and think to themselves, “It sounds like you had some major psychological needs, Christianity offered love and hope, C.S. Lewis said some smart things that sounded good, and so you went for the medicine of religion, the opiate of the people.”

@Jimmy_Sellers, I like how you point to Christianity satisfying the great questions of life. Is it possible that the line, “I can tell you that if you should bring me conclusive evidence that Jesus Christ was not who he said he was and still is, the Way, the Truth, the Life I will be the first to leave the faith”, while showing a real openness to evidence, also might indicate that you lack evidence that this audacious claim is true? Vs., “I have found there to be strong public evidence that Jesus is who he claimed to be - God, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” ?


(Jimmy Sellers) #8

I am taking my lead from Francis Shaffer’s quote, it shocked when I read and it still does but it also speaks volumes to the skeptic. I think that it was Paul had in mind when he threw down the gauntlet of the Gospel vs the gospel of Roman Pax in Romans.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Ro 1:16).

“Christians are often lacking in courage. We tend to give the impression that we will hold on to the outward forms whatever happens, even if God is not really there. But the opposite ought to be true of us, so that people can see that we demand the truth of what is there and that we not dealing with mere platitudes.” “In other words, it should be understood that we take this questions of truth and personality [who God is and who human beings are] so seriously that if God were not there, we would be among the first to have the courage to [say so flatly and walk away from church and Christianity altogether] Insofar as we show this to be our attitude, maybe [those we wish to reach] will begin to take us seriously and listen to what we have to say.”
Francis A. Schaeffer, The God Who Is There.


(Tim Ramey) #9

@CarsonWeitnauer Yes, I do feel that the scenario you gave could easily happen. However, because I was searching, I thought Mormons were Christians but something at their tabernacle didn’t sit right. I was so naive that I thought that anyone who included Jesus were Christians. The Way Int’l was out there too and yet, something gave me pause. My evangelicalism? No, because I wasn’t one. I could never use it in a debate but the Holy Spirit drew the Truth out in my life and, in hindsight, I can see that because I wanted to know the whole truth and nothing but the truth, He protected me from error. It was no wisdom on my part. I didn’t know anything. I still remember calling Nancy while on my trip, and phone calls were not cheap then, and instead of talking “mushy stuff”, I was asking her what in the world was the rapture and why did people speak in tongues. I was vulnerable - very susceptible to error but I was protected because I desired to know the Truth. As I mentioned, it was in the early 70’s during the Jesus revolution. There was a lot of very deeply profound discussions but many very superficial ones too. The Doobie Brothers were singing, “Jesus is Just All Right with Me.”

To this day, I still believe that if someone wants to truly know the truth, they’ll find Jesus. I was in a discussion once with someone a few years back where I shared Jesus with them and they said that they were attracted to Hinduism. I said, “Great! Go for it with all of your heart.” Puzzled, he looked at me and said that he thought that I had just said that Jesus was the only way. I mentioned to him that I did say that but told him that if he truly wanted truth, he would find that Hinduism just wouldn’t measure up and he’d eventually end up at Jesus’ feet. Desiring truth in our inner most being is critical.


(Dave Kenny) #10

Hi @CarsonWeitnauer

In response to your question:

"do you think there’s a risk in saying, “At 15 years old, an overwhelming need for my belief systems (my faith) to be RIGHT suddenly became extremely important to me.”

Perhaps the impression is, “Well, it sounds like your adolescent need for certainty latched onto Christianity, which offers dogma and absolutes. Perhaps this overwhelming need kept you from remaining appropriately agnostic and curious?”

I have two comments to add:

  1. I hope whatever I authentically say about myself and my journey does create impressions that they disagree with! That is the beginning of a meaningful dialogue! If my presentation has ‘holes’ in it that can be poked, then I would hope that they would poke them! At least we are now in the conversation and there are some clear understandings of our different positions… I can think of 5 or 6 different things in my summary that would cause an objection or need for clarification… those are cookie crumbs that I left lying around on purpose… and they lead straight to my candy house! (okay… maybe now I’m taking the analogy too far…). My (limited) experience has taught me that you often need to be provocative (although not belligerent) in order to get the ‘lid off the can’ and into something meaningful…

  2. I opted for the ‘off the cuff’ option when I gave you my answer… very likely there are some better choices of words that I could have used… which I suppose is the point of the exercise… thanks for the coaching!

Dave


(Melvin Greene) #11

Well, it’s true that Christianity offers love and hope. It also offers peace, joy, forgiveness, mercy, justice and purpose. Christianity isn’t some trite self-help program where you think happy thoughts and your whole life just changes. This is the transcendent, unchanging truth of the God who created all things and who loves us with an unfathomable love expressed in the audacious act of entering his own creation as a helpless baby that grew into the man named Jesus who showed who God is and then allowed himself to be crucified on a Roman instrument of torture called the cross so that we could be forgiven of our sins so that we could have an intimate relationship with Him and spend eternity in His presence. And, this isn’t just some pie in the sky when I die kind of hope that He gives us. He gives peace and strength and grace for the here and now. He has given me a peace and joy that I find hard to describe during some of my darkest times. I should add that the forgiveness and salvation that He offers us is not earned. There is no working off bad karma, or hoping our good deeds out weigh our bad deeds. He offers salvation freely as a gift. We just have to believe it and receive it and put our faith in Him. No other religion offers that.
Yes, C.S. Lewis said some smart things that sounded good, but I would challenge you to read “Mere Christianity” and really look at and examine his logic and the reasonableness of what he claims. You can compare what C.S. Lewis believes with the philosophy of Karl Marx in his Communist Manifesto. Isn’t he the one who is credited for saying that religion is the opiate of the masses? We see where his ideas of a utopian society ends up.


(Carson Weitnauer) #12

Thanks, friends! I think this has been a good challenge? I’ll post another one on Monday!


(David Cieszynski) #13

For me my answer would be: without Christ I have no hope, he gives me hope in my darkest days and answers to my problems. Over the years he has answered my prayers repeatedly.

Then depending who it was I would go into detail how he helped me stay grounded and level headed when my wife briefly left me and the children.


(Melvin Greene) #14

It has been a good challenge, @CarsonWeitnauer. You are quite good at this; although some of your replies have been a bit vexing. :laughing: But, that’s the idea, isn’t it? You really made me think! I like that!


(Robin Aldrich) #15

This is the first time I’ve posted since joining this forum. Melvin, I thank you for your honesty. Many of the posts I’ve read here are beyond my learning. I consider myself a new Christian. I was sporadically raised in a church, but God was nonexistent in my family. I remember sitting in my bedroom as a girl, with my doll wrapped in a blanket, as I played out the Nativity in private. I felt the holiness of the Lord, but never understood what I was feeling.
As I got older, other things began to fill up the hole in my soul, including people, places and things of all types. After high school and a failed attempt at college, I joined the Navy, at my parents’ insistence. I found many things in the military, but Christ was not one of them. My husband was. A Catholic by birth, he believed in what he’d been taught. I tried, going through the classes required for conversion. I loved the rituals, but never felt more than a mild presence of God in the many masses I attended.
Eventually, alcohol became my God. It didn’t fill the hole in my soul either, and the more I tried to numb myself, the more painfully aware I was of the deep void in my life. Thankfully, I found AA and through it, God.
I’ve been sober for 16 years. God has been a part of it all, but Jesus was not. It wasn’t until my husband, after more than a decade as a civilian, went back into the military, that I found Jesus. Not only did I find Him, but I accepted Him as my savior and Lord.
Right now, my husband is in Afghanistan, fighting. We’ve kept our faith at the forefront of our conversations and prayers during this combat deployment. We are both 50. I’ve learned to love the sinner, but not the sin. I’ve felt love for an enemy I used to despise. If I have the capacity to change from who I was into who I am today, so does everyone else. They may not choose to, but God exists in them.
I first heard Ravi speak after we were stationed at Fort Benning, GA. His life-changing message led me to a Christian disciple makers class at a church here on Fort Benning. My journey is just beginning. My Bible and Mere Christianity both lay on my bedside table. Every day I make time to read, study and talk to God. I’m excited by the opportunity to build my personal relationship with Christ, and hopefully, to one day help others walk the same path.


(Melvin Greene) #16

Thank you so much, @RobinAldrich, for sharing your story. Congratulations on 16 years of sobriety! It sounds like your husband has a similar military experience as I did. I left the Army in 1985, and returned by way of the National Guard in 2004. Yes, that was almost 19 years! It’s kind of a long story, but I will say that it was God ordained. I served in Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009. I will be praying for your husband.


(Dave Kenny) #17

hi @RobinAldrich

I’m so glad you jumped in and broke the ice with your initial post… a doozy too! Military… conquered alcoholism… husband at war… The journey you are walking is inspiring. Your daily devotional activity is commendable… it will serve you well.

I hope you will feel free to jump in on some more threads and share your learnings and insights from your experiences… they are unique and I would personally benefit from hearing from them…

Dave


(Tim Ramey) #18

@RobinAldrich
I’m behind in reading the posts so I just saw yours. Thanks for your honest heart. Reading your story really touched me. You’ll find this group a very loving, wonderful fellowship. I trust that you’ll grow as you continue to engage with others. Bless your dear heart.


(Omar Rushlive Lozada Arellano) #19
  1. Skeptic
  2. I was an atheist. I’m a Christian now because it makes the most sense existentially and it’s intellectually potent. Knowing Christ changed my whole life and world. It’s like scales are falling off my eyes. I started to see things in a better light now.

(Jennifer Judson) #20

Immediate response…to a skeptic.

At first I became a Christian because of what I saw in the other kids in my youth group. I wanted what they had. It’s nearly impossible to describe what that was but I’ll try. It was belonging…belonging to something much bigger than yourself. We moved all the time, I was always the new kid. I saw that they were rooted in something that wasn’t dependent on how long you’d lived in a place. It was connecting to something solid and permanent, it wouldn’t matter where I was. Also, we were going through real family trials–Mom had cancer, my Dad was a workaholic and in denial about the cancer, my sister had had an abortion, and my older brother was in the Army after having dappled in the drug culture of the '60s. Until I became a Christian, I was rooted in nothing. Everything was like sinking sand.

I found a beautiful, simple faith and it sustained me. I admit it stayed an immature faith too long and after college I let if fall dormant. At 29, when my life was falling apart again and I was getting divorced. My soon to be ex-husband told me I was completely unworthy of love. The truth is, he was right…and wrong. But love felt pretty conditional to me at that time. One sleepless night when I seriously questioned what was the point of living, God spoke to me, inwardly, but as clear as day, “I still love you, I have always loved you.” It was a turning point.

Since then I’ve heard his voice on other occasions, so it wasn’t an anomaly. I’d tried life on my own and it hadn’t worked. I can tell you that walking with Him makes all the difference. It both changes and enhances everything. Now my struggles become an opportunity to find out what God would have me learn in the midst of it all. I’m learning how to love better. Being right always used to be everything to me, now being loving is far more important.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making any claims to any great achievements or perfection in my character. My human nature, or as we Christians say, my sin nature, gets in the way plenty–I do struggle with rebellion. But I’m learning that when I surrender, it’s Christ in me that enables me to be an overcomer. And that’s my goal, to be an overcomer. My best shot at that is with Christ. Hold on, my ONLY shot at that is with Christ.


(Megan Kemp) #21

Hi @RobinAldrich! Thank you for sharing your story here. I pray you are encouraged more each time you open the Word of God, study and talk to Him. I bet you are already helping others walk this path. Who is in your path now? Bless you!
Megan