At school today I had an interesting conversation about modesty with one of my friends who is Atheist. It occurred to me later that many of us have a hard time or even don’t know how to talk to Atheists about our faith or beliefs. So here is my list of 7 tips to follow when talking to an Atheist friend about your beliefs.
Disclaimer: If your Atheist friend is not able to talk about these topics calmly and rationally, then these may not work. And you may have more luck conversationally when talking about social issues rather than the topic of God himself or evolution vs creationism (you may need another approach for those)
- Do NOT actively try to bring up the topic of faith every chance you get! You will not convert them, God will. They are not your project. Think of it this way, what if they tried to bring up how great it is to not have to go to church on Sunday every single Monday? Wouldn’t that become annoying after a while? Realize that being a good friend is a HUGE form of evangelization, and being Christ to them is more important. Your actions will speak way louder than your words
- Don’t completely avoid these conversations either. You are in their life for a reason, so you should share your faith and beliefs when you have an appropriate opportunity. This can be a little scary, but it will not do any harm as long as you are polite. If a topic comes up, don’t ignore it. Simply state your opinion politely. If they are willing to have a discussion with you they will stay on the topic. If not, they will change the subject but don’t force it.
- Listen to them! If they are willing to talk to you like a rational human being, really listen to them. Don’t be so caught up in your next response that you can’t listen. You are expecting them to listen to you, so you need to listen to them. This can be hard to do when they say so many things that trigger responses in your mind, but you can always take time to think after they are done talking. Realize that many Atheists would not be able to have this conversation calmly and rationally, so the mere fact that they are willing to talk to you is a gift.
- Find common ground. There will be things you agree on. For example that rape and murder are wrong, and that our world has a lot of issues. Chances are you will agree on some parts of issues, so start there. This will let them know that you were listening to them and it will give you an opening to explain why you disagree with them without seeming rude.
- DO NOT YELL AT THEM! (wait I just yelled at you… oops!) But seriously, be patient and do not yell at them. This is not an argument, this is a discussion and you would not want them yelling at you. You may think something is completely obvious, and you may not understand why they just don’t seem to get it, but you must remember they are not growing up with the same beliefs and ideas that your parents are giving you. They are going by what they know from their family have been taught, and what society says to be true.
- Realize that you will never agree on everything. You will not convince them that you are right. At least not in one conversation. There will be some things that even if it is obviously morally wrong to you, they will never see why (like gay marriage, premarital sex and birth control). Sometimes all the stats, studies, bibles, and catechisms in the world would never change their mind but that is ok. Again, it is not your job to make them agree. It is only your job to be open, honest, and loving. If you are able to lovingly, honestly, and unapologetically tell them what you believe, they will respect that.
- And finally when you are done talking to them thank them for being willing to have a good discussion with you. If they were respectful and attentive to your conversation, then they have given you more than many Atheists would have. Although you did not “convert” them you may have given them something to think about.
BONUS ADVICE: After your conversation is over, don’t forget to pray for that person’s conversion. You may have planted a seed in their heart, so ask God to water it. For nothing is impossible with God!
I hope this was helpful. Please know that these are the 7 things that I do, but I am still learning how to talk to atheists too. I know it can be scary sometimes, but it does not have to be. These people don’t bite. They are just searching teens like you and me. What about you… Do you have an Atheist friend too? How do you talk to them? Are there any tips you think I missed? Leave a comment or question below, and tell me about it.