A letter to the editor in our local newspaper was from an atheist who was taking exception to what a vocal Christian had written in the same paper. It was clear from the editorial that all the argumentation and debate had produced no concensus and no faith.
The argumentation and negative results make you wonder if there isn’t a better way to talk about one’s faith. Is debate really that effective? Can you change someone’s mind through debate and elaborate argumentation?
Jim Henderson has discovered that bridges are built with conversation, not debate. He was recently featured in the Christian Science Monitor in an article about the relationships he is creating with atheists and others who eschew church and faith.
Jim was also featured in a video clip of James Robison’s Life Today. In this video Jim and Hement Mehta are interviewed about a shared project they had which including visiting churches together and then writing about it.
What is different between Jim’s Off-the-Map approach and the typical argumentative approach is listening. Debate doesn’t listen; it just talks. Debate misses the pain in a voice. Debate overlooks the past and whatever may have influenced the present.
Sometimes it’s hard to convince Christians that the best entry into another’s life is not necessarily the most direct. Listening, serving, caring, and socializing are much more powerful than tight intellectual arguments.