Apparently, one of the fastest growing religious designations in the US today is “No Religion.” [http://www.americanreligionsurvey-aris.org/] It’s not like I really needed to see one of the latest surveys to know that, because I’ve been running into so many who claim no faith lately! Living and working among Communist Chinese for eight years, I am not unfamiliar with the need to start with an explanation for why we believe God exists, but the difference back home is remarkable. While most Chinese have never really wrestled with the existence of God or at least been challenged in any credible way, the average American skeptic has been exposed to just enough religion to be spiritually harmful. He is also surrounded by enough strange, obscure, and just plain wrong representations of Christianity that he has a strong predisposition against it.
Part of the problem is that we usually allow the skeptics to frame the debate in our outreach. Sadly, most Christians do not understand their faith well enough to give an adequate response to the questions that are being asked either. If we are going to be relevant to our current generation, we’re going to have to be able to enter into intelligent dialogue; that means not only giving the right answers, but being able to ask the right questions. This videolink represents a good example of some questions to ask, but to be truly incarnational we’ll need to be having these conversations in the midst of our normal relationships.
What are some methods that you guys are using to equip your small groups for outreach to the skeptic? Do you encourage atheists, agnostics, and deists to come to your small group time and are members prepared to receive them when they do? I’d love to hear about some apologetic methods that you are using effectively!