Do you remember what it was like to go to church for the first time?
A lot of pastors have been in church for so long that we can’t remember. Maybe you grew up going to church with your family like I did. If so, you can’t remember because you were too young.
If you came to faith in Jesus later in life, you might have an advantage in this area. You know how awkward it was.
Maybe you didn’t know anyone. Maybe you only knew one friend who invited you there. Maybe you were nervous. Maybe you were afraid it would be a cult. You were probably more than a bit skeptical.
Pastors cannot afford to lose touch with what it is like to be an unbeliever in church if we want to continue to reach people with the Good News of Jesus Christ. So, if your church is trying to reach your community, as it should, then you must assume that there skeptics in the room.
Maybe they were invited by a friend, family member, or co-worker. Maybe they found your church online. Maybe they had a horrible week and wandered in looking for something, anything to help them. You never know who is in the room. You must be ready to speak to them.
Also, do not be so quick to assume that the people who have sat in your church for years are all believers. I have known many skeptical husbands and wives who go to church out of obligation to their spouse. I have worked with many teenagers who go to church because their parents have faith, but they do not.
Here are four powerful reasons to preach to skeptics in every sermon.
1. Preaching to skeptics reaches skeptics.
If you want to reach people with the Gospel, you need to speak to them.
Regardless of whether they like the music, programs, or people in your church, the message will either compel them or repel them.
When you lovingly address their doubts and concerns and show that you understand what they are thinking, they will be more receptive to hear what you have to say. There will be fewer barriers between them and the Gospel.
2. Preaching to skeptics encourages your church to invite their skeptical friends.
If you’ve ever invited a friend to church, you know how your perspective of the service changes. You begin to see everything from your friend’s perspective. You cringe if things are awkward and if the pastor talks only to insiders.
Afterward, you may apologize and make a few excuses, hoping they will give church another chance. And next time, you may hesitate when inviting people to your church again, because you are embarrassed by what they might experience.
When churches fail to speak to unbelievers in the room, people stop inviting unbelievers. It’s that simple.
However, when a church speaks to unbelievers every week, people are confident that they can invite unbelievers. They know they aren’t bringing an outsider to a members-only meeting.
3. Preaching to the skeptics teaches people how to speak to skeptics.
Your people will hear how you explain and answer the doubts and objections to Christianity. Then they will be able to repeat what they learn to their friends.
By listening to you share your faith, they are also learning how to share their faith.
Therefore, preaching to skeptics becomes a part of the discipleship and evangelism strategy of your church. You are training your people how to respond to the difficult questions that skeptics will ask.
4. Preaching to skeptics strengthens the faith of your church.
We all wrestle with doubt at times. Don’t forget, sometimes the skeptics are people who have been attending your church for a long time but have not fully bought in or are struggling through a season of doubt.
Addressing common doubts and misconceptions will strengthen the faith of both newcomers and longtime members.
Do You Preach to Skeptics?
If you aren’t preaching to skeptics in your sermons, you should pause, and reconsider.
How will you reach them if you don’t speak to them?
How will you preach to them if you don’t know what it’s like to be them?
As Tim Keller says in his book Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism: “Christian communicators must show that they remember (or at least understand) very well what it is like not to believe, all the while maintaining that it is possible to come to real assurance of God’s reality and love.” 1
This post was originally published at ProPreacher.com.