Have you ever wondered what your non-Christian friends and neighbors think about your commitment to Christ? To find out, I asked a group of brand new believers how they had perceived Christians before they found Jesus. Although their observations may not accurately describe most Christians, they reveal what many nonbelievers hold to be true.

Once we know how our non-Christian friends perceive us, we can take steps to connect with them more effectively.

What They Think:

– We spend too much time at church. Non-Christians often see our commitment to church as all-consuming. They fear that if they start attending, they will lose time for their families and hobbies.
– Our lives are full of “no” and “don’t.” Non-Christians often perceive that Christianity is extremely restrictive. They may assume that becoming a Christian means giving up things they enjoy.
– We judge them. Our non-Christian friends may notice that our lifestyles are different from theirs and conclude that we judge them for their activities and behaviors.
– We might confront them with Scripture. The chance that we may quote a Bible verse during a conversation makes some people break out in a cold sweat.
– We are completely different. Our lifestyles often seem foreign to non-Christians, and they may feel that we have nothing in common with them.

What We Can Do About It:

– Find common ground. Do you both have children in a soccer league? Are you both avid fishermen? Connections like these make you more of a real person to non-Christians.
– Build a relationship. Treat non-Christians as people, not spiritual conquests. Accept them as they are and let the Holy Spirit do the convicting.
– Have fun. Show them that Christians do not have to be stuffy and boring. If you’re planning a Hawaiian luau, invite your non-Christian neighbors.
– Be open and honest. Share your life, including your doubts and failures, with them. Christianity is about real people living a real, often messy faith.
– Pray. Ask God to show you when and how to share your faith.

By Kathy Howard
As published in Discipleship Journal, Sept/Oct 2006, Issue 155

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