Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Book Review - Tactics

As a student in high school I learned that it isn’t good to tell a teacher that she is wrong, even when you know the subject better than she does. It is better to ask a question and to shape that question in such a way that the teacher will realize her mistake while attempting to answer the question. I never formalized that method, but Gregory Koukl does in his book Tactics. But rather than addressing how not to offend someone who has the ability to influence your grade, Koukl approaches this from the standpoint of how to share your faith. These days, we encounter many people who are offended by Christian beliefs. The tactics Koukl outlines in his book can help us to reduce the conflict and help them discover the truth of what we are saying for themselves. And even if they don’t, perhaps the people listening will.

The meat of the book is three questions that we can ask that will cause people to consider what they are saying. Often, people are just repeating things that other people have said, without giving any thought to the validity of the argument. These three questions may cause the person to see the weakness in their argument.

  • What do you mean by that?
  • How did you come to that conclusion?
  • Have you ever considered?

The great thing about these questions is that they aren’t limited to a adversarial situation. You might be talking to a close friend and hear them say something that doesn’t sound quite right. “What do you mean by that?” Your child might say something like, “I don’t think I should play with Jane anymore.” You might ask, “How did you come to that conclusion?” or simply, “Why?”

One of the things that Koukl brings out about asking questions is that you can direct the conversation without taking sides on an issue. You don’t even have to be certain of what the right answer is. Perhaps, once you discover what the other person is saying and why they are saying it, you will agree with them. But when they are wrong, those questions may help them to see where they went wrong.

This is the best book on sharing your faith that I’ve read. Unlike other books that tell you what to say about the gospel, this book focuses more on the practical ways we can improve communication. While there are a few things I’m not sure I agree with him on, this is a book that every Christian who wishes to improve communication with non-believers should read. But the people who will benefit the most are the people in leadership positions who must deal with people who disagree with them. I can see where a teacher of a small group might put this to use if there is a student who insists on pushing strange doctrine during class. Rather than getting into an argument that disturbs the other class members, one could ask questions of the person and bring them around, or at least, make the other students aware that the person’s ideas are not correct.