We are doing a course in conversational evangelism.
And there's been some good stuff: mention about listening, for instance. But in that session, most of our time was taken with the beatitudes as a basis for behaviour.
I'm not quite sure where that would take us (next session we are talking about our 'testimony') but am wary that starting with behaviour (although our behaviour should represent our faith) could take us to the thin ice of 'rules for living' as though being Christian is about 'doing the right thing', rather than our 'doing' being consequential upon our regeneration.
Being able to converse about one's faith is clearly a good thing; however, I'm not sure that this course equips in terms of Peter's injunction to ''give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence" in 1 Peter 3:15, "always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks..."
In conversation one has to be able to deploy reasons, meet objections and answer questions. A course on converational evangelism needs to be able to guide its students in these terms. We know what most questions are, we know what most objections are; so skilling people in these should be no problem.
But underpinning this is knowledge: we have lost traditions of new Christians being instructed in the faith, and just turning up to church to hear sermons aint' it. Nor is the haphazard approach of most Bible Study groups.
Basic instruction in the Bible, Christian history, belief and practice, and 'conversational apologetics' is needed. An organised curriculum for children through to end of high school age is also needed to ensure younger Christians are confident in their ability to talk about their faith and its implications for life, thought and practice with substance.
Encouragement of reading both the Bible and Christian literature is part of this. Refer to the 'special posts' on the right of this screen for some ideas.
A course such as we are doing is OK, but it would be more OK if it was built on the foundations I've sketched.
Oh, and don't just tell people to 'listen'. Include participatory exercises, particularly emphasising not listening to answer, but listening to understand.