Recommended Reading: Why We Argue Best with Our Mouths Shut

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We’ve taken the last few months to unpack a conversation strategy we call R.E.A.D.. We want to read people well because this builds two-way bridges of trust with people that opens the way for Christ to minister through us to others. Jesus has utterly transformed our lives for the good! If we hope to share Him with others so they would experience His healing, we have to approach and relate to people in a way that makes us safe and engaging. Without this, we will never be able to share what Christ has given us.

In the June addition of Christianity Today, Tim Keller, former pastor of Redeemer Church in Manhattan, shared his thoughts about how evangelicals could better connect with skeptics. His thoughts underline what we’ve been talking about.

“We could do a far better job of patiently listening,” Keller told the Huffington Post. “And we should not talk until we can represent the skeptic’s viewpoint with empathy so that the skeptic friend says, ‘Yes, that is my hang up; I couldn’t have put it better myself.’ Only then should [we]… try to recommend the Christian faith to them.”

The article, written by Christine Herman, goes on to say,

“Keller echoed the conventional evangelical wisdom: ‘You can’t argue someone into the kingdom.’ Both common sense and research confirm this is true; it is very hard to change a person’s strongly held beliefs – religious or otherwise.  But if it seems obvious that arguing is not an effective way to win someone over, it doesn’t stop people from trying. From Facebook to family gatherings, our disagreements regularly erupt into arguments. Its no wonder people often avoid topics pertaining to politics and religions, in both their digital and social lives. It’s often just too risky.

“If we have any hope of healing the divisions in our society, families, churches, and communities, it will serve us well to learn how to have better conversations. And mounting scientific evidence suggests that the secret may lie in the charge put forth by James: to make every effort to be quick to listen and slow to speak (1:19).”

I couldn’t agree more. Learning to listen better by Repeating what people have said until they agree we got it, trying to name the Experiences they have had in their story, as well as Affirm every true thing you can is skillful listening, and loving. Keep working on this with the people you encounter today, and see if God doesn’t build trust.

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