I’m working hard at developing relationships with non-believers. I’m reminded regularly, though, that they don’t always readily listen to believers when we try to share the gospel. I knew that, but I’m also learning in conversation with them why they don’t want to listen. Here are some of the reasons I’m hearing:
- They sense we’re treating them more as projects than as people we care about. That happens when we talk with them only to share the gospel but then turn away from them when they aren’t ready to respond.
- They see us only as judgmental. We may not be at all, but they have a tendency at times to lump all believers together. One group that really is uncaring and judgmental colors the reputation of all of us.
- They haven’t seen much gospel change in our own lives. They aren’t interested in hearing more about the gospel when that message doesn’t seem to have affected us much.
- They learn we’re not prepared—or willing, even—to engage their questions. Their inquiries are sometimes smokescreens, but some are honest questions. When we talk past or ignore their questions, they don’t listen much anymore.
- They don’t understand our language. Many of us almost unknowingly speak in Christian-eze and denominational lingo. Sometimes, even other believers who don’t run in our immediate circles don’t understand us. That makes it hard for anyone to listen to us.
- They’re not usually deceived by our sometimes “side door” approaches to evangelism. Learning to bridge a conversation to the gospel is important, but our efforts are at times so forced that they come across as scripted and artificial. That’s one reason why my approach most often now is to ask permission upfront to tell somebody what Jesus means to me.
- We “bow up” when they disagree with us. We don’t know how to listen without getting defensive . . . without feeling an immediate need to win our argument when someone disagrees with our position. That approach quickly shuts down a conversation.
- We never tell them the good news in the first place. This reason may, in fact, be the primary reason non-believers don’t listen to us. If we never tell them the gospel—and many believers never do—they never even have opportunity to hear us. Listening to us isn’t even an option in those cases.
What reasons would you add to this list?
This article originally appeared here and is used by permission.