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Take a missionary tip from Paul

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Take a missionary tip from Paul.
Build on common beliefs!

Paul was a fairly new convert to Christianity, but he already had a sense of how to share the gospel. Specifically, he knew what modern missionaries have also learned: that people are more likely to listen if you focus on your similarities, not your differences.

In Acts 17, Paul is preaching to a group of Greeks in Athens. These people are neither Christian nor Jewish, and they worship multiple gods. Notice that while Paul normally quotes the Old Testament when he preaches, he doesn’t in this case—it would have held no authority for this audience.

He noticed that they have an altar TO THE UNKNOWN GOD, apparently to cover their bases in case there’s a god they’re not aware of who would be upset at their failure to acknowledge him or her.

Seeing this opening, Paul tells them about a god who is indeed unknown to them: the true and living God. In fact, he says, we are God’s children. And instead of quoting Old Testament prophets (whom the Greeks didn’t believe in), Paul quotes Greek poets who had also said we were the offspring of God (see Acts 17:28).

In the end, most of Paul’s audience rejected his message. But not everyone! A few people believed, including a member of the council Paul had been preaching to. You never know the effect you may have when you help people see what aspects of the gospel they already believe in!



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