Kenneth L. Brokmeier
We are ambassadors for Christ. Our mission? Preach the good news (cf. Mark 16:15). Previous articles in this series directed us to be ready by studying the Word. We know about praying boldly, confidently, and even dangerously for God to open doors. We recognize that listening carefully is a must. And it can be helpful to ask some clarifying questions so that we can properly crystallize the issue. So . . . now what?
Kiss them! Well not literally kiss them but use the KISS approach! KISS, an acronym employed by many, commonly is explained as Keep It Simple, Stupid (or Silly or Sugar). Using the KISS method can help one think through and complete a difficult task.
Witnessing or standing up to someone assaulting our faith can be daunting, especially the first few times we try it. To help, let’s explore the KISS motto—with a minor adaptation.
Keep can sometimes mean to stay, continue, or persevere. If someone is attacking your faith or they simply want to know about your faith, remember to keep going. Stay the course. Don’t be so quick to give up, as tempting as that may be. As Christ’s ambassadors, keep plugging away, even when facing verbal hostility. After all, God promises that he is your helper, and others really can’t harm you (cf. Hebrews 13:6).
Keep also means storing or retaining. No two evangelism experiences are alike. After you have an evangelism opportunity, make the time to evaluate and reflect on that encounter. Store it away, including what you might do differently. Reflecting on and evaluating that experience can often prepare you for similar circumstances in the future.
Likewise, stash and store Bible verses in your memory bank so you can have them on the tip of your tongue. Granted, this calls for an investment of time and effort, but you don’t need to memorize the whole Bible. Arm yourself with a handful of carefully chosen verses from Scripture. Keep them at your disposal. Build the list from your experiences. The time you invest in knowing a few passages and where they are located in the Bible can reap great dividends as you become engaged with those who have questions and are seeking answers. A great starting point would be to learn some of the basic passages from God’s Great Exchange, a simple way to tell others about Jesus. (If you are not familiar with God’s Great Exchange, ask your pastor or check out a simple brochure at nph.net.)
Keep It . . . note it is singular. There are times and places to discuss a wide variety of religious topics, but when dealing with an individual who is asking you questions, try to stick to only one topic at time. Limiting the number of topics can help you and the other person to focus on what is most important.
Keeping it to one subject can be especially beneficial if you are lacking in personal witness experiences. Focusing on many different issues at once can prove to be overwhelming. Besides, leaving some “loose ends” can also open the door to have future conversations with this same person. Certainly, acknowledge and keep track of other themes or issues the other person wants to chat about. Then study them and get together in the future to talk more.
It will also compel us to remember that finally there is only one main topic we must discuss—Jesus. When we center our dialogue on Jesus, sooner or later many other subtopics will naturally flow from that discussion.
Jesus underscores that point for us when he rather bluntly asks, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15). What a person knows and confesses about Jesus reveals the faith within. We want to keep it, that is, Jesus, as the main point.
Keep It Simple. Here’s an example: Do you know what denticity is? If you studied chemistry, you might. Denticity is the number of donor groups in a single ligand that bind to a central atom in a coordination complex. Funny thing, I read that definition, and I still don’t know what denticity is!
Now imagine what it could be like for people who really don’t know about Jesus and, perhaps, even less about the Bible. When their ears hear terms like justification, sanctification, incarnation, salvation, or redemption, what goes through their minds? Even words like mercy, grace, sin, law, or gospel may immediately conjure up meaning and pictures for us. After all we spent two years in confirmation class thoroughly learning them. But remember that the person you talk to doesn’t have that background and may even have the wrong definitions for terms familiar to you.
Make no mistake. I’m not against learning terms. I ask students in my confirmation class to learn them. They are important. But for someone who didn’t grow up knowing and learning the “lingo,” those words probably sound like denticity does to me.
The solution? Don’t use those technical terms. Instead be ready to describe them. Remember a good place to start is with your catechism. Take it off the shelf and review those terms so you can describe them without using theological jargon.
Keep It Simple (and) Sincere. Here is a quote worth learning for friendship evangelism: “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” If people sense that you are a fake or a fraud, it may be impossible to maintain an audience with them to tell them about Jesus. After all, if others sense you are insincere, why should they want to believe anything you might say about the Bible or Jesus?
Practice sincerity even when talking to antagonists. Show them you have a genuine interest in their eternal well-being. Such sincerity may leave them with something to think about.
Sincerity implies truthfulness and honesty. When having a religious discussion, it is okay to say that you don’t know the answer to a question. Of course, if an answer is to be found, go and find it in God’s Word, but sincerely saying, “I’m not sure” may help people to see that you too are still growing in the grace and knowledge of your Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:18). And remember, when you say you will try to find the answer, it gives you a chance to talk to them again.
Does the KISS method work? Four years ago, Sally from East Asia attended my church. Sally knew English but was not familiar with the Bible or biblical terms. I had to employ the KISS method as we met almost daily for usually 60 to 75 minutes for five months. Since her return to her country we studied the Bible for the past three and a half years about ten times monthly via the Internet. Two years ago, her spouse joined our study.
Does the KISS method work? I think it does. After all, God certainly keeps his main message about Jesus simple for us. And there is no doubt about his sincerity to save us.
This is the fifth article in a 12-part series on sharing your faith.
Author: Kenneth L. Brokmeier
Volume 106, Number 3
Issue: March 2019