When do we give up on evangelism?

I received a question from someone who had been trying to share their faith with a sibling.  The sibling had been argumentative with them, and flatly refused to deal with the evidence.  She would appeal to any theory on offer (no matter how little evidence there may be for it) in order to avoid theological claims.

The respondent was asking at what point they should just give up.

My response is below:

I remember quite some time ago in college when, as an atheist, I encountered a group that was witnessing in front of the college library.  They were using a survey tool and so I engage in conversation with them not knowing at first what they were about.  Once I realized I remember giving the Christian a bit of a hard time (I was a very staunch atheist at the time).  I did not become a Christian that day, but even 15 years later I still remember that kid.  He was the only one who tried to witness to me before I came to faith a year or two later.

I tell you that story in order to tell you this, you cannot judge the efficacy of your relationship with your sibling based on perceived headway in intellectual discussions.  It sounds from your description that your sibling is committed to her rejection of the Christian faith.  As you have said, she is willing to believe anything (even without evidence) rather than accept the Christian faith.  In such circumstances, and although it may break our hearts, all we can really do is pray.  Certainly we should be ready to answer any questions that they may have and we should tactfully look for opportunities to share our faith.  Even so, in such circumstances often all that we can offer is friendship.

You are not obligated to continue in pointless discussions, if you feel that they truly are pointless.  If she is completely unwilling to deal with the arguments and evidence, then there is no meaningful discussion to be had.  In that case all that we can do is to be available and to pray.  This is not the same as giving up, as you can and should continue to pray and remain vigilant to make use of productive opportunities as they come by.

I would also strongly recommend, Tactics by Greg Koukl.  In that book he goes through a number of strategies for engaging in all different sorts of people at various stages of their spiritual journey.  His conversational strategies have helped me in my evangelistic efforts, and I am sure that they will at least provide you a new approach to discussions with your sibling.


Matt Bilyeu

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