Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions
By Gregory Koukl
One look at today’s morally decaying culture should alert those who claim to follow Christ to actively follow Christ and purposefully pursue The Great Commission – “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 CSB) The world would be a different place if more Christians were intentional in evangelization and discipleship. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
In 2022, it is not surprising that most of the United States population rejects the deity of Jesus Christ (source). What is more troubling, though, is the fact that many self-identifying Christians don’t know the basic tenets of the Christian faith. Why is that?
I think all of this has played a role in the lack of church attendance, traditional values, and Judeo-Christian faith affiliation. (Click here for my article that tackles Gen Z and the future of the Church.) Whether we like it or not, we’ve gotten lazy, careless, and yes, even self-absorbed. We’d prefer to focus on ourselves, how we look, feel, and do life. We’d rather stay in a bubble than venture outside of it. In a fast-paced, morally depraved, godless society, prioritizing The Great Commission is challenging and unappealing. It takes time, work, and effort.
Persistence. Endurance. Strength. Boldness. Wisdom. You must be able to speak when you’d prefer to be silent. Give when you desire to take. Get back up when you fall. Go out when you’d rather stay put.
Yet, so many of us struggle with the knowledge and/or training to confidently minister, disciple, and evangelize. We may understand the importance of doing so but feel like we lack the equipment needed to enter the battle. I certainly felt this way many years ago and perhaps that is where this post may find you right now. What helped me was studying apologetics. Apologetics generally defined is knowing why you believe what you believe so you can be knowledgeable in defending your faith and confident in sharing it with others. Apologetics have certainly shaped my theological understanding of biblical Christianity and I highly recommend all Christians study apologetics.*
However, if you’re more seasoned in your faith, are looking to go deeper, or may need a little push outside of your comfort zone, then I suggest you read Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions by Gregory Koukl.
Tactics takes the foundational truths of apologetics and develops practical strategies for the reader to apply in or adapt to a variety of situations or circumstances. The author draws from his extensive experience defending Christianity in the public sphere to demonstrate to the reader how to initiate conversations naturally, communicate truth clearly and effectively, confront lies graciously while exposing faulty thinking, skillfully manage a conversation and maintain an engaging, yet respectful, interaction with anyone of a varying viewpoint.
The book is divided into two different parts:
- The Game Plan: In this section, Koukl guides the reader through offensive apologetics by making a positive case for Christianity, offering reasons that support a biblical worldview, and providing evidence for some of the most tested challenges that come from those who oppose Christianity (such as intelligent design versus evolution, the existence of God, and the resurrection). A big element of Part One is introducing and educating the reader on how to use what Koukl calls, The Colombo Tactic. Developing the art of Colombo involves gathering information, using questions to convey a point, and reversing the burden of proof.
- Finding the Flaws: In Part Two, Koukl focuses on defensive apologetics by walking through some of the most countered attempts to undermine or disprove Christianity. Koukl offers a slew of suggestions or ways in which to respond or counter a direct attack. This section focuses on using facts, evidence, data, and statistics as an armor of protection against untruthful, unrealistic, or contradictory statements, beliefs, or considerations that someone with an opposing viewpoint may possess.
Throughout Tactics, Koukl emphasizes that the goal should not be trying to change someone’s mind but instead should be entering the ring and challenging an opposing worldview. The mission is to plant seeds that can be watered over time or through a separate encounter with another Christian or with the Christian faith. Koukl refers to this objective as putting a pebble in someone’s shoe – leave the person with a thought or question that they can’t stop thinking about.
Tactics taught me it’s important to have facts (apologetics) but you also need a strategy or a “game plan” in how to use and implement the knowledge you possess. I found much value in reading this book and learning about the many different “tactics” that can be utilized given a variety of situations you may face, conversations you may encounter, or audiences you may interact with.
While the author shared many personal stories that I found to be productive in supporting his message or the point he was trying to make, there were also some accounts that I felt were awkward, overplayed, or unconstructive in their attempts to attract an unbeliever. In my opinion, these manners came across as confrontational, combative, and a little authoritative. I recognize the majority of the content in Tactics comes from a place of grace and love, but I also sensed the author’s tone and desire to encourage the reader to be more like a fierce warrior of Christ rather than a timid soldier too scared or too worried to use his weapons when under attack. I believe there is a time and a place, specific situations, and particular people that should be taken into account when determining how to best engage in ideological disclose.
My overall takeaway from Tactics was to make the most of the moment, don’t be afraid to interact with strangers (especially those who don’t share your worldview), stick to your convictions, and courageously stand firm in your faith. If you know what you believe is true and then actually believe it, then why wouldn’t you boldly, bravely, and confidently share the Truth of God’s Word and the hope of the gospel?
* If you’re interested in studying apologetics, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can recommend several books to you 🙂
** I personally bought this book after hearing about it on the Relatable podcast and The Alisa Childers Podcast. All the thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my very own.