Speaking Truth To A Secular World

Today I attended a luncheon for employment law attorneys.

I had arranged for the speaker. He is one of the best employment attorneys I know, an excellent speaker and a friend. He also happens to be a Christian.

I knew his general topic (“How To Lose An Employment Case”), but I didn’t know what he was going to say. The setting and group to whom he spoke were secular.

Somewhat to my surprise, in the context of discussing his topic, he spoke about the importance of church, obedience to God and integrity, but he did it in a way that was persuasive and was not self-righteous or religious.

A few weeks ago, I attended a gathering of trial law specialists. Our speakers were a former state Supreme Court justice and a partner from his law firm. They are both Christians. Their topic, audience and the setting again were secular. Yet both spoke Truth about ethics and the nature of man from a Biblical perspective and did so in a way that was persuasive but not religious.

In both situations, the speakers did two things that were key to effectively communicating Truth to a secular audience.

1. They Did Not Cite The Bible. In neither situation did the speakers cite chapter and verse from the Bible. If they had done so it would have immediately turned off most of their secular audience to what they were saying. Christians seem compelled to cite chapter and verse when speaking Truth to non-Christians, but Truth is Truth regardless of its source or citation. The chapter and verse designations in the Bible are not part of the original manuscripts anyway; they were added later. Moreover, younger people are not impressed by the authority of information but by the relevance of it, which leads to point two.

2. They Wove Truth Into Their Personal Narrative. They did not speak Truth in a declarative manner; instead, they wove it into their personal narrative. People my age (mid-40s) and older grew up in an age where information came through authority (parents, school teachers, etc.). Younger people have grown up in the age of the internet, where information has been accessible to them apart from authority. As a result, they do not judge the truth of information based on the authority of its source but on its effectiveness in and relevance to their life. Both the older and younger generations are moved by personal narrative. By using narrative as a vehicle for Truth you are making Truth more palatable for your audience.

Next time you are trying to speak Truth to a non-Christian try these two things, and I think you will find yourself being a more effective advocate for the kingdom of God. GS