I recently commented on a post on an Atheist’s blog. She went to a Multi-Faith forum, where she discussed Atheism, and got offended by some of the Christian’s comments. And fair enough – the Christian speaker practically described atheists as “rebellious cranky kids who want to be able to run around having promiscuous sex and drunken parties.” In reality, Atheists are people who have seriously thought about their faith and their beliefs, and often have thought about God more than most Christians. As I commented on her blog, I’m not going to get into trying to Convert them there, because it’s not the place.
But a comment following on from my comments got me thinking. Commenter Andre said “You achieve no tangible results by attempting to convert people, and it is frankly crass, disrespectful, and downright insulting.”
Maybe it is. I know for me, I get a little bit annoyed when people try to convert me to another religion. So when talking about our faith with non-believers, should we consider a different tactic?
Christianity as a Band
A long time ago, a friend of mine told me to check out his Cousin’s band, Sounds Like Chicken. We had a listen to the CD, but it didn’t really grab me, so I left it alone. A little while later, while in the local Christian book shop, Koorong, I saw their next EP and thought that I’d give it another go. I had a listen and heard songs such as this one:
I really liked the CD, and started to get into them. Every time they came to Perth, I went and saw them, and really got into their music. They were (and still are) my favourite band, but have since broken up to pursue other avenues.
When we recommend a band to someone, or a movie, we’re telling them that we’ve discovered something we really like, something we’re passionate about, and we think that they might like it as well. If they don’t, that’s cool – we know that everyone has different tastes in their music, and movies, so that’s fine. But also, just like I eventually decided that I loved Sounds Like Chicken, even though I wasn’t really taken by them when I first heard them, we may later rediscover a band and decide that we now like their music, where as we didn’t before.
I feel that sometimes, we need to recommend Christianity much like we do music – especially when we’re amongst our friends. Be willing to tell people about this really awesome thing you’ve discovered – Christianity – but don’t be offended if they’re not interested in it. They may have different values. They may be in a different situation. As is often said – the seed has been planted, and though we don’t know how long it will take to grow into fruition, or even if it will survive, so long as we are planting seeds, the possibilities remain. And remember to allow the recommendations to rest if someone dislikes it. I know for me, the more someone continues to tell me something I don’t like, the more I dislike the idea, and sometimes the person.
For example, I was watching Sunrise one moring, and Howard Sattler, a talkback radio presenter for 6PR in Perth was discussing asylum seekers who arrived by boat. He was saying that we should send all the “illegal” arrivals back to where they came from, despite the fact that Australia has a legal obligation to assess all asylum seekers cases who arrive in Australia under the UN Refugee convention, and that if they are legitimate Asylum Seekers then sending them back to their home country would place them in more danger than they were originally in. The more Howard spoke, the more I disliked his idea, and the more I disliked him – to the point that I’ll switch off if he is on Sunrise now. Likewise, if someone is not interested in Christianity – the more we push it, the less interested they get.
Instead, convert with your actions. Live your faith, in every aspect of your life. People will see how you live and wonder “what makes them so different?” My beliefs brought me many opportunities to talk about my faith on Tour. Because I wasn’t drinking, it gave rise to a number of questions as to why. While I may not have pushed conversion on them, just by talking to them lets them know about Christianity – and the seed is planted. What they do with that seed, that is for the Holy Spirit to work on – whether through myself, or another person, or through the person themselves. The important thing is that we show respect, and not be, as Andre put it, “crass, disrespectful and downright insulting.”