As more and more people from Muslim nations come to the United States, we as Christians have many new opportunities to respond and reach people who don’t know Jesus. But how do we do that with a culture and a faith we know so little about? I found this article about witnessing to Muslims with some common-sense tips we talked about on the show today. The source is Baptists Committed to World Evangelism. Read it and let us know if you have anything to add:
How Not to Witness to a Muslim
Few subjects in the world are as controversial as Muslim evangelism. So I figure, I’ll give it a shot. After all, that’s the name and purpose of this blog.
Let me preface everything by stating that I am not against differing methods or strategies. I simply believe that the most important aspects of evangelism are often overlooked (especially when working with Muslims). After years of studying the subject, reading dozens of books by various authors, and personally working with Muslims myself, I want to share a few things that I have learned.
It’s no secret that the Muslim world has been one of the most challenging areas in spreading the gospel over the past 1,400 years. Very little evangelism has taken place among them and there are thousands of theories as to why that might be. The temptation has been to overreact to this challenge and move away from Biblical methods and embrace ideas that have no Scriptural foundation. I believe that it usually happens through a genuine desire to reach people, but in spite of good intentions it is doomed to failure.
Before we discuss how to reach the Muslim world, let’s address a few pitfalls that I have come across in the past few years.
1. Do not get involved in politics. I cannot emphasize this enough. It does not matter what your political position or idealism is, we were never commissioned to change or even challenge the government. Democracy is not the hope of the nations… Jesus Christ is. If you want to see real spiritual results, stay out of political affairs!
2. Do not argue about nor attack Islam. A debate is when two proud individuals, full of godless ego, decide to prove to each other that they are in some way superior to the other. I will refrain from going off on a tangent here, but suffice it to say that there are no positive results in slandering Islam or Mohammad. Our commission is NOT to go into all the world and preach against Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, polytheism, or even atheism. We were called to preach the truth.
If they ask you if you believe that Mohammad was a prophet of God, be honest and simply tell them “no.” Nine times out of ten that two-letter answer has been the end of the issue for me when talking to Muslims around the world, and it saves hours of fruitless debates and/or crafty ways to skirt around the issue. Be honest, focus on the truth (Jesus Christ and the Bible), and stay on track.
3. Do not be a coward. This is kind of the antithesis of the previous point. Cowardice breeds cowardice. One of the biggest challenges in Muslim missions (if not the greatest) around the world is the issue of fear. It’s usually called “being wise,” by those who have embraced it, but the result is the same: years of torturous anxiety with no results. When a friend of mine, who was a Muslim before becoming a believer, was asked what was one of the greatest lessons that he had learned from the missionaries in his country, his response was “how to be afraid.” What a sad epitaph.
There is an unbiblical method of Muslim missions growing in popularity today known as the “insider movement.” In essence the adherents to this doctrine teach that a person can become a “secret” follower of Jesus by believing that He was the Messiah in their hearts, but never profess Him. They are encouraged to live exactly like a Muslim, dress like a Muslim, talk like a Muslim, go to the mosque like a Muslim, pray like a Muslim, worship like a Muslim, and in every conceivable way be a Muslim who privately thinks about Jesus while he practices Islam. Good luck finding a verse on that.
4. Do not sacrifice truth for unity. Jesus Christ is controversial. Understand that and embrace it. Do not try to avoid the issue. He is the only way to the Father so it is impossible to truly witness to somebody without talking about Jesus. The world hates Jesus and they’ll hate you you too. It’s one of our precious promises from the Lord himself (John 15:18-21). Building relationships is important, but it should never come at the expense of the truth. Don’t be afraid to tell people that you believe in the Trinity, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died on the cross for our sins, and that He arose from the grave. The problem that most believers have is that they don’t know enough Bible to explain why they believe these core doctrines. The only way to teach the truth is to study and know the truth. Saturate yourself with the Word of God.
5. Don’t trust in yourself to produce results. This is not a license to be lazy. We should work hard at whatever we do and be persistent (1 Cor. 15:10). However, do not think that your intelligence, eloquence, reasoning ability, or ministry methods actually produce the results. Draw close to the Lord and love Jesus Christ more than your ministry, more than your family, more than the people you are trying to reach, and more than your own life. We plant, and we water, but the Lord gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:6-8).
6. Don’t dwell on negative thoughts. We usually lose the battle on this front. Prejudice, fear, and bitterness ruin us from within, and it’s most difficult to deal with because no one else sees what’s going on most of the time. We are not crusaders; we are messengers of good news to those who are without hope. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
7. Don’t give up (2 Corinthians 4). Remember why we preach the gospel. It is about glorifying the name of our Lord who alone is worthy to receive all glory, honor, and power (Revelation 4:11). We need to control our thought life and remember this is neither about us nor those to whom we are preaching.
We must know and understand our purpose and God’s power.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
Our Objective: “To preach Jesus Christ and him crucified.” There is no other message.
We don’t have to be great orators, have a PHD, or possess some mystifying talent. God uses the weak things of this world to confound the mighty (1 Cor. 1:27) and chose the “foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Cor. 1:21).
The Lord will bring the increase. Just keep lifting Him up (John 12:32).
- Islam Is Here – How Should Christian leaders Respond? (standupforthetruth.com)
- Shining light in our local mosques (standupforthetruth.com)
- Bringing Truth to the Muslim world (standupforthetruth.com)
- Can Muslims Follow the Biblical Christ and Still Be Muslim? (standupforthetruth.com)
- Is “Muslim” a culture, a religious identity, or both? (standupforthetruth.com)