The problem with some apologists is that they do apologetics.
Not that there is anything wrong with apologetics. The problem is that they just drop a generic apologetics bomb and hope that it damages some doubt. What is needed is for apologists to take the time to understand their audience and then tailor the apologetics message accordingly.
This is not just some new seeker-sensitive fad that I am suggesting. This is foundational for Gospel proclamation in the New Testament. Compare Jesus’ conversations with Nicodemus and the woman at the well. Jesus does not apply the same standard formula to both. He knows who his audience is and he speaks to them according to what they need to hear. Compare the way Paul in Acts speaks to the Jews and the Athenians. Paul knows his audience and speaks to them where they are at.
So how do we do this today? I would like to offer some questions that may help you to understand your audience.
- Do they believe in God?
- How do they understand God?
- How do they understand Jesus?
- What is their view of the Bible?
- Do they believe in the supernatural?
- Do they believe in objective or subjective moral values?
- Do they belong to a religion?
- Do they have a religious background?
- Have they had a bad experience with religion?
If you can find out the answers to most or all of these before you start presenting your views, you will have a much better conversation.