RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–It takes time to win Muslims to Christ, and when Christians hurry the process they can turn the Great Commission into a “great debacle,” Carl Ellis, a featured speaker said at the National Conference on Islam Aug. 15-17 at LifeWay’s Ridgecrest (N.C.) Conference Center.
“Microwave conversion just doesn’t work with Muslims,” said Ellis, co-founder of Project Joseph, an effort to educate the church about contemporary issues.
“We have to understand that it’s more than a matter of differing doctrines,” he noted. “It’s also each person’s unique situation — what’s happening in their lives right now. And it’s understanding their goals and motivations — why they are Muslim, and what they hope to achieve through their faith.”
Ellis offered the guidelines to Christians eager to share their faith with Muslim friends and acquaintances, including:
— Begin discipling before insisting on conversion.
“In the Great Commission, Jesus commands us to make disciples — people in the process of learning to obey all that Christ commands. If we do that, He will take care of the conversion,” Ellis said. “Discipleship begins when we first engage people through day-to-day encounters and casual conversation, and it builds from there. Don’t wait for a Muslim to become a Christian before discipling him.”
— Be a good listener.
“Don’t evaluate a Muslim only on the basis of his doctrine,” Ellis advised. “Ask questions. Examine the situation that led him to Islam and the goals he is trying to achieve through it.”
— Try to understand Islamic doctrine from the perspective of Islam.
“Recognize that the Christianity Muhammad encountered was corrupted. Study the history of Islam’s development.”
— Be careful how you present and handle the Bible.
“Do not use a King James Version. According to the teaching of some Muslim sects, King James himself translated this version and corrupted it,” Ellis reported. “Also, never use a Bible in which you have made any marks. This appears disrespectful to Muslims, who would never write on the Koran. Do not put the Bible on the floor, either, or hold the Bible with your left (unclean) hand.”
— Avoid all pictures of Jesus or any other biblical characters.
“A Muslim thinks that’s idolatry.”
— Allow them to reveal their personal situations, issues, concerns and fears at their own pace.
“Usually, they reveal more superficial issues in the early stages of a relationship, and save deeper life issues for later.”
— Be respectful of them and their beliefs.
“It’s crucial that we are not judgmental. Remember how Jesus dealt with the woman at the well. Rather than focus on her moral failures and theological shortcomings, He offered her living water.”
— Wisely apply God’s Word to the issues they choose to share.
“The Bible addresses every life issue. When we are able to demonstrate how practical and relevant the Word of God is, we’ve come a long way in leading our Muslim friends to Christ.”