How Do I Talk About God with Someone Who Doesn’t Want to?

Anonymous asked a question:

What do you do if every time you bring up God in a conversation someone changes the subject?

Hey dear friend, I would say: Let them. Be kind and let them.

That doesn’t mean you never talk about your faith around that person. But my guess is that

1) the topic of God is painful for that person,

2) the topic of God is repulsive for that person,

3) it is not entirely relevant for that person, or

4) I say this with much love, but maybe the manner in which faith is brought up has not been gentle or understanding.

You cannot force someone to talk about something they don’t want to. I’m not saying you’re doing that. But if they’re changing the subject and your goal is to “bring them back to God” all the time, you’re coercing that person into a subject that they obviously don’t want to discuss.

A Christian’s goal is never to transmit information until another person is persuaded. That’s a very westernized way of evangelism. It assumes that a “threshold of theological knowledge” is what makes a Christian. Modern church evangelism is a memorized checklist of systematic facts, and it seems that once you can recite those facts, this must mean you’re close to God. This, of course, is not true.

If you want someone to know about your faith: we must simply live into our faith. To just be. And be curious about the other person. I bet there is a reason this person avoids any talk about God. Why not get to know them? And why not discover within yourself: what is your goal? Agenda? Motive? Did you assume this person is avoiding faith discussions? Or is there something in you that pushed too hard, assumed it must be their issue, when it could be yours? And really: Can you still love this person even if they never open up about their faith with you, ever?

I’m sorry I’m being a little hard here. I have experienced too much aggression from those who think they’re just “passionate, outspoken, bold for truth,” when really they were being obnoxious and socially tone-deaf. Of course, it’s good to be open about your faith. Talk about it, sure. But we must enter with a gentleness that leaves room for discomfort, disagreement, dialogue, or even total avoidance.

And in the end, you may be just one rung of the ladder in this conversation. You may not be the one who gets to talk faith with that person; it might be someone else. Certainly you want to be a rung in that ladder, and not an obstacle.

— J.S.

Photo from Unsplash

7 thoughts on “How Do I Talk About God with Someone Who Doesn’t Want to?

  1. I live in a multi-faith city and there is a mutual respect for each other’s beliefs (or lack of belief). I think most people just want gentle civil chit-chat, compassion and tolerance. I could be friends with a person who has devoted their life to their faith without that faith being a part of my life. It’s finding that common ground in the venn diagram. I’d be curious about and never disrespectful for the cultural traditions (lent, eid etc) but I also would expect that same level of non-judgement back.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Is “you don’t” too harsh of an answer? One of the heroes in my life, Aunt Marie, was the most devoted believer I’ve ever known and she could maintain a pleasant conversation with anyone about just about anything — yet you never doubted her personal convictions. I aspire to be that light of love like she was. And she didn’t bring up God anymore than a flower brings up the soil; God was a fact of her life so it naturally came up but He wasn’t a topic of conversation unless the person she was talking with wanted Him to be.
    My two cents 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Yes, it may be too harsh. I am thankful for those like Aunt Marie, who is/was a perfect example of how to balance convictions and compassion. I have seen so much of the opposite. It’s possible to find balance.


  3. I grew up in a family of all unbelievers and started my personal relationship with God at a young age. I quietly lived out my faith and loved my family deeply. It was my intention to show them God’s love and how he changed me before I spoke of my faith. Everyone knew I was a believer and asked me to say grace at holiday meals and when we opened our eyes I often saw a few red faces and some teary eyes. I saw it as evidence that giving thanks to God had touched them deeply. When someone was ill or in the hospital, conversations opened up and I would announce I would be praying and doing a short devotion if anyone wanted to join me, all were welcome. I also assured my family that I would not be offended if they didnt want to participate. Most of my family would join but my grandmother always excused herself. I never forced a conversion with her, ever. When she was on hospice I was on my way to visit and she asked my dad to make sure I didn’t try to pray with her. I assured him I hadn’t planned to. I told him she already knew I was praying for her anyway. You see, I see God as a gentleman that knocks, but waits for us to invite him in. I believe God wants us to be bold, but never forceful or offensive. I always prayed for my grandmother (and other family members) that God would reveal himself to her in a way she could accept him.

    Liked by 1 person

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