I went to a speech and debate tournament a few years ago, and the speaker who lead the devotional for that morning talked about how we each were created with different gifts that are useful and helpful in different ways. He talked about the body of Christ and did an exercise with us to show us how each body part works together with the others, and told us that that’s how we are supposed to be. Then he did one of the most memorable things I’ve ever seen from a devotional. He showed us this video.
Yup, the guy showed us the Power Rangers. It was pretty lit. I loved that show growing up. In a lot of episodes, you’ll see one of the Power Rangers charge the bad guy, and try to fight him and he’ll end up losing. It’s usually not till the other Power Rangers (or in that video, a TON of Power Rangers) jump in that the bad guy gets beaten. In the same way, we all approach evangelism and apologetics a little differently, but in order to reach people effectively, we need each approach. Just a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t really work.
So how can we engage the culture?
There are a few different approaches we can take. The first way we can approach apologetics and evangelism is called “positive.” This approach is when you offer reasons that people should believe the same way you do. You might be appealing to an emotional side or to a more logical side of a person, but either way, you’re giving reasons and evidence that the person should buy your worldview. Another approach is called “negative.” The negative approach, by name alone, sounds pessimistic, but it’s really not. Rather than giving reasons to believe Christianity, the negative approach attempts to remove uncertainties and doubts regarding Christianity. It answers questions. The positive approach is the offense and the negative approach is the defense.
Then, you have the contextual approach. People using this approach try to talk to people by looking at the cultures and societies surrounding the audience and relating their points back to what the people know. This method can be helpful so that you’re clear, especially when you’re talking about things that your audience doesn’t know much about.
Do you see how all three of these methods can be helpful? Sometimes, people need evidence for a belief system. Sometimes they don’t, and they just need some doubts to be resolved. Other times, the people might not doubt or need a lot of evidence; they just need to understand the Christian faith better. I mentioned before how different approaches to apologetics and evangelism aren’t necessarily wrong, but they might just be different. One thing that I think we can learn from Jesus is that He didn’t just answer questions when He talked to people. He answered people. He knew people’s hearts and he answered people according to what they had going on in their lives. Obviously, we’re not God, so we aren’t going to just know that stuff. It’s our job to engage the culture, and care enough to learn about people. That way we can more effectively reach people and answer them in the way that they need.