As many cultures around the world have moved from reason-based decision making to emotional decision making, it’s important to be able to approach a faith conversation from that angle. But how can you overcome emotional barriers to faith? Indigitous recently asked author and attorney Anna Rapa to share her thoughts.
If you want to overcome those emotional barriers and have a faith conversation that engages the person you want to reach, there are three important aspects that your message must have.
From 1957-1963, Leave It To Beaver was one of the most popular TV shows in the United States. It was a show about an idealized American family of the 50s. The Cleaver family had no major struggles — everyone got along, lived comfortably in the suburbs, and no one got into any trouble that couldn’t be resolved within a 30-minute runtime. “As believers, we often feel like we have to present a front that is very much like Ward and June Cleaver. Like presenting the perfect picture about what it means to be a Christian.”
But doing so makes you seem inauthentic. Just as no one’s life was really as easy or perfect as the Cleaver family, no one’s Christian walk is without struggle. So Anna recommends being open about what your walk is really like. “The realness with which you talk about faith, your doubts, your struggles” is vital, Anna says. “Our authenticity helps draw people to us, not our perfection.”
As a Christian, you might feel called to help other people, to lend a hand when needed, and always be there for your friends. But have you given them a chance to be there for you?
When Anna first left the missionary world and took a secular job, she connected with her coworkers, but often just listened and supported them. The relationship was one-sided. It wasn’t until she asked for help moving appliances to her new apartment that the relationship shifted and became more mutual. “We were then able to have much deeper conversations about faith and reality because our relationship was now mutual,” she said.
“Look for ways to be vulnerable with people, to invite or ask for their help,” Anna says. “Then when you share about faith or your beliefs about God, they just seem much more realistic or accessible to people.”
You have a friend who you want to know Christ. Obviously, you would like that to happen as soon as possible, because none of our days are guaranteed. But you can’t rush something like that. “The more time that we invest in building relationships with people that are holistic, not just about faith questions but about life questions, we have more and more opportunities to be the message about what it means to be a Christian,” Anna says.