Seek To Win Souls Not Arguments

There are Christians put a great deal of effort into understanding the world in which we live so that they can help the church be better at leading people to follow Jesus. One of these guys is a man named Dr. Thom Rainer. After doing some research he wrote a book called The Unchurched Next Door. In this book Dr. Rainer says that the unchurched fall into one of five different “faith stages.”

U5. This category represents those who are antagonistic and possibly even hostile to all things Christian. Surprisingly Dr. Rainer says that this category only makes up about 5% of the unchurched in America.

U4. This category represents those who are resistant to the Gospel, but they are not necessarily antagonistic toward it. This group makes up about 21% of the unchurched in America.

U3. This category represents those who are neutral about the Gospel. They show no clear signs of interest and no clear signs of antagonism toward the Gospel. Those in this group are very possibly open to discussing Christianity. This group makes up about 36% of the unchurched in America.

U2. This category represents those who are receptive to the Gospel and the church. This group has realized that there is something missing in their lives and they are seeking something to fill that void. Many of them realize that what is missing is God. This group makes up about 27% of the unchurched in America.

U1. This category represents those that are highly receptive to hearing and believing the Gospel.  Many in this group are already convinced that Jesus is most likely the answer they are seeking, but they don’t know how to start. They want to be saved, they just don’t know how. According to Dr. Rainer more than 97% of U1’s said they would be “somewhat likely” or “very likely” to attend church if invited.[1] This group makes up about 11% of the unchurched in America.

Everyone we know falls into one of these categories. Therefore they will have different responses to our investing and inviting them to church. What do we do if the response is unfavorable?

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote–Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” John 1:45-46 (NKJV)

I love Philips response to Nathanael. Nathanael knows about the region they live in and knows that Nazareth has a bad reputation. Nazareth was sorta considered to be an unclean area because the Jews there had regular contact with Gentiles. It had a terrible reputation and people from there were often considered to be questionable in their integrity and commitment to God. This is the basis for Nathanael’s question. Notice that Phillip didn’t argue with him. He simply said come and see. He knew that Jesus was the Messiah and that if Nathanael simply met Jesus he would know that Jesus was the Messiah as well.

So what we do we as we try to invest in the lives of others so we can invite them to church?

Refuse To Argue. Don’t argue about other religions. Don’t argue the finer points of theology. If someone has genuine questions use your Bible to answer them to the best of your abilities. If you don’t know the answer tell them you will find out and let them know.

Let Scripture Be The Authority. This sorta goes along with refusing argue. But if they tell you, “Well here is what I believe…” and they are very wrong, show them what the Bible says. Don’t debate their feelings, impressions or what their heart tells them. Just show them what the Bible says and let it be the authority.

Be Agreeable To A Point. While we are not there to argue, we also cannot affirm things that are obviously not Biblical. This is especially true about things that can endanger their eternal souls. The Bible says we are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). We have to find and have a balance as we talk to them.

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15 (ESV)

We must balance explaining the truth with being gentle and respectful.

Be Thick Skinned. Don’t take offense and become angry if someone becomes critical. This probably won’t happen often but it may happen. If they become offensive and won’t stop, simply tell them you are sorry if you’ve offended them and leave.

In the end, no one will be brought to Jesus because we win an argument. You can’t argue someone into the Kingdom of God. It just won’t happen. And it’s easy to sorta give up on someone who argues with you but we can’t really do this. This is why we have to focus on winning souls instead of arguments

[1] Dr. Thom S. Rainer The Unchurched Next Door, pg 74

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