Dealing with Rabbit Trails in Gospel Conversations

by Mar 7, 2024Christian Living, Personal Evangelism

If you are in the habit of sharing the gospel, you have undoubtedly come across someone who kept bringing up random questions and objections. Soon after you start to address a question they pose, they change the subject to another question, “But what about…

How do you handle such a situation?

First, seek to recognize the motive behind the questions. Someone may be asking a sincere question struggling to understand the truth you have presented. In this situation, they usually stay focused on the topic as they process and dialogue with your answers.

However, there are others who bounce from one topic to another. Just when you start to address their concern, they change to another question about another topic. I call this line of questioning a “smoke screen.” Often the motive is to keep asking questions so that they feel exempt from dealing with the main issue of being accountable to God. They avoid that issue by raising other issues and feel that if they have an unanswered question, they are off the hook.

When this happens, I find it helpful to bring the conversation back to the “main thing,” the gospel and their need for Christ.

Let me illustrate. One of my most memorable encounters sharing the gospel came when I was talking to a university professor about the Christian faith. He immediately launched into the impossibility that a soul can exist apart from the body and gave scientific data to back up his claims.

After talking with him for a while about the issue, I brought the conversation back to the gospel by asking, “I realize that you don’t believe you have a soul, but what if the Bible is correct and you do have one and you will one day stand before your Creator and have to answer for your sin?

He responded by changing the subject again, saying that there was no evidence that God exists in the first place.

After much discussion about that, I again turned the conversation back to the gospel by asking, “But what if the Bible is right and you have to face God being guilty of sin?” Again, he changed the subject.

Finally, we were through. We cordially parted ways, but before we did, he said out of nowhere, “But you know, I do give money to the church down the road.”  Talking to him a little more, I discerned that he was trying to “hedge his bets” just in case the Bible was true.

Here is the point.

Although he did not come to faith in that moment, I was able to cause him to think and question his beliefs by simply bringing the conversation back to the terms of gospel, that we were created by God, accountable to God, and that there are only two ways to pay the penalty for our sin against God. We either pay for them ourselves or trust in Christ who paid for them for us. There is no other way.

Even though the person to whom you are speaking may not trust Christ in that moment, if you can cause them to think twice about their beliefs, perhaps that was God’s assignment for you for that conversation. If so, you can trust Him to use it for their good and His glory.