Whether walking the streets of a major foreign city or walking the streets of your neighborhood, you will encounter people of different beliefs.
Christians make up about a third of the world’s population, according to Pew Research Center. That means about 70% of people worldwide are affiliated with another belief.
Jesus called believers to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20), but knowing how to share the gospel with different faiths can seem overwhelming. Thankfully, the Bible offers guidance on sharing your faith with others without having to be an expert on major world religions.
Unfortunately, many Christians are quick to speak and slow to listen, counter to what James taught in James 1:19. We can be quick to make judgments about different faiths and cultures. In doing so, we miss the opportunity to learn about others and how to be sensitive to their cultural backgrounds.
A person’s beliefs may be strongly tied to cultural influences. In some countries, people are persecuted for straying from or renouncing the major religion of the nation. Individuals may fear their families or community will disown them if they convert to Christianity.
Understanding a person’s background and beliefs will help you approach the topic of faith with sensitivity and knowledge. Recognize that a person may not be ready to become a Christian if it means losing his or her family and community ties.
Take time to listen and understand people of different faiths and cultures. An initial rejection of the gospel may come more from fear than an unwillingness to believe. Have urgency when sharing the gospel, but remember to be patient as someone considers the cost of becoming a Christian (Luke 14:25-33).
Part of understanding a person’s background is also understanding his or her cultural customs. Missionaries are trained to know the customs of their mission field in order to live among the people respectfully. This does not mean compromising Christian beliefs in order to relate to others.
Paul never compromised his beliefs in his ministry, but he knew how to adjust to different situations. As someone with a Jewish upbringing preaching to Gentiles, Paul learned be relatable to other people groups to win them over for the gospel. He had “become all things to all people (1 Corinthians 9:22)” by being willing to forgo familiar comfort to preach to various audiences.
In the same way, respecting cultural customs as long as they do not go against Christian morals can speak volumes to those of other beliefs, leading them to be more willing to hear the gospel.
People have a reason for believing what they believe. They also have a reason for not believing in certain things.
Some may not have faith in Jesus because they believe they have found a flaw or inconsistency with Christianity. Some may even be prepared to argue their point to disprove Christianity.
It’s imperative to stand firm in the faith and remain confident in what the Bible teaches. Be prepared to respond to criticisms about Christianity (1 Peter 3:15). Do not minimize the authority of Jesus or the Bible.
If you come across a question you cannot answer, ask if you can have time to research the question or point the person to resources that might give an acceptable answer. Have confidence in your faith and why you believe Jesus is the only way to Heaven (John 14:6).
Each faith is unique, but being understanding, respectful, and confident will resonate with anyone of any belief system. Having these general tools will help your evangelistic efforts when sharing the gospel with other faiths; having more knowledge about specific faiths will take your efforts a step further.
In the upcoming weeks, we will explore how to share the gospel with specific faiths.
For more on major world religions, download our field guide.