Into Thy Word -
What I want to do is challenge you to see some of the root causes why people turn you off when you evangelize. By knowing these common objections you will understand why they respond the way they do, so you will not take things so personally. That way you will not be turned off from doing evangelism yourself. This will give you greater confidence, so you will know how people respond, and then be better listeners and evangelists. There are countless objections that people give and many different categories they can go into. But from my experience in youth and evangelism work, over 90% of the objections you will run into fall into 7 main categories.
First: The problem of Trustworthiness. People tend to object to the reliability of the Bible and even God. This attack and objection is rooted in the will of our nature, as most objections are. People do not want to acknowledge a prime source that they need to submit to. So they will grasp at anything to make a blanket to protect them from the truth, and to give them comfort for their reasons. People will attack the faith to give themselves protection in their beliefs. If a seemingly logical reason can be assured, then they will use it. They may say the Bible is a myth and full of contradictions, but they probably have never read it, and are only are repeating what they heard from others who have not read or researched the Scriptures either.
Before I was a Christian, I would say almost anything, and argue with anyone to try to prove the errors and contradictions of the Bible that I got from reading anti-Christian books, but I rarely went to the prime source. As I came to be a Christian, I learned over the years that the reality of God is found in our experience of Him, and being obedient to His will. I know that God exists because I know Him personally. We also know by the trustworthiness of history and even science that apologetics expounds.
So credibility will be at stake for you in witnessing. People may not want to acknowledge a god who they are accountable to, so they will say there is no God, as a protection from responsibility and accountability they do not want to take on. Now we know the truth, and science and history back us up, but most people, even Christians, know little about apologetics. So do a little research, there are a lot of Christian web-sites and resources that are of great help. You do not need to know all the answers, but you should know where to find the answers.
Second: The problem of Pluralism. We live in a politically correct culture, where offense of some belief is a cardinal sin, unless Christianity is the target. People want to believe that all religions are the same, and all roads lead to God. One of my majors in college was Comparative Religions, where most of my professors would argue that all religions are the same and valid, except Christianity which has no place or benefit in our modern culture. They would teach the wonders of eastern mysticism, and even aberrant groups, and new philosophies, but constantly put down Christianitys claim as being exclusive.
People will respond in a way such as, "why does it matter what I believe?" They say it is arrogant and narrow minded to believe that Christianity is the only way. This objection usually gives the most passionate negative responses. Because people want to believe what they want, and do not want to be dictated to. The arrogance is in us, and our determined will to go our own way; and the refusal to surrender our arrogance is the ultimate pride and condescension; not Christianity which is the true and only way that God provides us out of His love and grace.
It is our human nature to strive to be on top. Two kids will argue over who gets the bigger piece of cake; so it is with adults who argue their right to themselves. We are always involved in our tasks to prove our value and worth.
You will also get, "what happens to the person who never heard the gospel, like those tribal people in Africa?" The fact is, most people cannot fathom that God is in control and sovereign, because it interferes with their comfort level. If they can rationalize that God is not sovereign and there are people not in His control then they themselves are off the hook.
Third: The problem of Need. People do not want to admit to a need for something outside themselves. Just like the folks on the Titanic, most people cannot see the need and urgency of their plight. So you may get responses like, "It is okay for you but I do not need it," or "Christianity is just a crutch for weak people." People get so entwined in their lives, they never look up; all they see is their busyness and accomplishments like the Titanic crew in the radio room. They may see religion in general as a pacifier to the masses as communism did. And that people should be in control of their own destinies, and we are a god to ourselves.
People get themselves into all kinds of addictions to be a substitute for a God. Then there is the fear of loneliness, which is a deep yearning for companionship that people cannot provide. So they get involved in perverted activities as a substitute, only to have it not fulfilled.
They see religion as a barrier to science and rational thought, when in fact it is the opposite. Christianity is based on solid, rational, logical and consistent reason. The will to reject the truth is like the Titanic passengers not getting into the lifeboats, blinded to their situation. They may also see religion in general as a reaction to a fear complex, that religion is a unenlightened way to view the universe, yet science has never given an answer to the basic beginnings and reasons of existence. God is our reason, our meaning, and purpose in life, not being unto ourselves.
Fourth: The problem of Suffering. As human beings, we are corporal in nature. That means we have a physical body with nerves and fragility. So suffering is a very negative aspect to our nature. After all who likes to suffer? So when they take a look around the world, and even in their own lives and see suffering, the question that rises is why would a loving God allow suffering and evil into the world? Thus, when they see suffering they assume that if there is a God, then He does not care. And since He does not care, then it does not matter how they live or what they do.
What the non-Christian may not understand is suffering is a result of our evil nature and arrogance against God. Suffering is not from God, it is from us. God is the one who offers an undeserved plan of redemption to bring us out of it. When we accuse God of allowing evil, it is like accusing a bank teller of robbery because they handled the money, while the real robber gets away. Suffering is the result of our choosing to disobey God, not a result of God, who does not have a malicious nature.
Fifth: The problem of Death. The non-Christian may not want to admit to a death in their past, or their impending demise, so two objections come out of it. First, they may deny death altogether, that is the afterlife part. Since there is no afterlife, there is no God, and since there is no God, there are no moral absolutes. Thus people are in charge and in control of our environment, and again have no need for accountability or responsibility. So the individual can rationalize their own fate and values and do what they want without fear of reprisal from a Holy God. The other possibility is a denial of death, usually stemming from an earlier loss, or the inability to recognize our immortal nature. Out of this view can come the reckless endangerment of the self by thrill seekers who take unrealistic, unsafe challenges.
Sixth: The problem of Spiritual Warfare. We need to know we have an enemy who will do whatever it takes to destroy our relationship with the Lord. Our enemy will prevent others from gaining access to God, access that was lost out of pride. Our enemy is the Devil. We have an enemy who uses our conflicts against us, and tricks our will and desires away from Gods. Satans strategy is that he joins the church and does not fight against it. Satan is at his best, his strongest, and most powerful in the church, because as Christians we let him. He causes more distraction by using Christians against each other, than any occult practice could ever do. To use a Biblical illustration, Satan spends more time watering and fertilizing the tares/weeds, than he does in cutting down the wheat.
Satan is the angel of light, God has not taken his glory away, he is not a goat-headed monster. Thus he deceives us with a little of the truth, and a lot of misdirected imitation of the Christian life. Satan accomplishes his task by manipulating us to focus on our desires and be in conflict with each other. Satan spends little time in what we see in the movies, that is an outright attack on us.
We need not blame all of our problems on the devil, as so many Christians do to take the responsibility away from themselves. Walter Martin, " The Bible Answer Man" used to say we have enough evil in ourselves to send us to Hell 200 times over; thus, we need not focus all the blame on Satan. But, we do need to take precautions and actions to avoid his influence on you and your neighbor. See chapter XX on prayer.
Seventh: The underlying problem of Fear. Stemming from most of these objections, is the underlying fear of the unknown and unexplainable. Most people, Christians included, do not have an accurate view of theology. They base their beliefs on irrational, preconceived ideas that they pick up from a smorgasbord of places.
People fear being convicted. I had a friend several years ago that refused to ever go and hear a missionary speak. He was a leader of the church and a growing Christian, so one day I asked him why. His response was very honest and to the point; he said he did not want to be convicted, and leave for a foreign destination to be a missionary. This for some reason really scared him; maybe it was something to do with his parents being missionaries and the problems they dealt with, that he did not want to face. I explained to him that God would not call him to anything he was not gifted to do, or had the desire to do, so quit worrying. I guess he got over it, because he spent a summer in Russia a few years ago.
This fear grips Christians from growing because they do not want to be convicted. And it is a very powerful motivator to the non-Christian who does not want to give up their perceived lifestyle, out of fear that the Christian life is boring. They may feel like my friend who was afraid to go overseas. They may think they have to be some kind of monk, or have some perverted Christian view they got from TV or from misdirected Christians.
The non-Christian may fear God in a vengeful way, thinking their sins and deeds are not forgivable and they would be rejected. It is a basic misunderstanding of the Gospel message; since they do not understand it, they reject it.
I believe the biggest barrier is the surrender of the will. People just do not want to give themselves up, thinking being a Christian is a sign of weakness that they do not want to be known for.
Thus not all of the problems have to do with Christians acting stupid, but this is not a license to do what we want while blaming society, or the Devil.
The passage, I Peter 3:15, is as clear for us today as it was for Paul, and even as it was for the passengers of the Titanic. Too many people rely on themselves to get through life while giving God the raspberry. We as Christians need to wake up at the peril that the world is in, that our very friends, family, and neighbors are in. We are in a ship that is sinking from under our feet, yet we live our lives as if nothing were happening, just "partying on dudes."
We need to communicate the need for Christ, and realize the objections we may face. People do not see the need, and Christians are too busy in their lifeboats ignoring the cries, afraid of being swamped.
Ó R.J. Krejcir 1998, 2001 excerpt from the upcoming book Pew Sitting