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Absolute Zero

Communicating the gospel

Don’t assume that others know anything!

“Most Christian literature ... begins too far along the evangelistic process; it assumes that the reader has at least some basic knowledge of Christianity and biblical concepts,” said the director of a very effective literature outreach recently.
If you grew up in a Christian environment with Sunday School or regular Bible classes, you may not realize that many people know little or nothing of the Christian faith. Even in a country such as USA with a very high level of church attendance, there are many millions of people who have never read any part of the Bible or visited a church. In other English-speaking countries including UK, church attendance is usually very low – less than 5% of the population. In most other parts of Western and Eastern Europe, India, and China, the number of Christians as a percentage of population is tiny.

The only safe starting point with other people is: assume they know nothing. They may not even know what ‘New Testament’ means, or ‘Philippians’, ‘Gospel of John’, and‘Easter’. A Bible reference like 1 Peter 2:3 may be completely confusing unless it is explained. Words such as ‘salvation’, ‘repentance', ‘assurance’, and ‘sin’ may be understood quite differently, if at all. In modern English, ‘born again’ has come to mean ‘enthusiastic’. To Buddhists, being ‘born again’ means re-incarnation – something they are trying to escape.

Think how confused you would be in a meeting of software designers or rocket scientists, where everyone except you understood the language!

We also need to learn to express Christian truth without using Christian jargon.

It is important to be sensitive to the reactions of non-Christian readers – read How to Annoy – a very interesting brief study. And to understand how non-Christians think.

The Gray Matrix helps us to understand how to communicate with people who have little or no knowledge of the faith.

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