Question: How in the world do you bring an atheist to Christ? I know you should pray for the right words but just wanted your thoughts on this.
Answer: Bringing an atheist to Christ is just like bringing anyone to Christ. I love the book “I Once Was Lost” by Everts and Schaupp. It is a brilliant work based on a lot of experience in evangelism on college campuses. Let me summarize.
Everyone must cross 5 thresholds to become a Christian.
First, they must come to trust a Christian. If the non-Christian is to you simply a notch to put on your belt, you will not be trustworthy. But if you love that person no matter what decision they make about Christ then they can trust you.
Second, they must be curious about Jesus. Many non-Christians have some knowledge of Jesus and would like some questions about Him answered. This is a first step toward genuine seeking.
Third, they must be open to radical life change. Embracing the message of Jesus will require a complete alteration of one’s life. When a non-Christian begins to understand the meaning of the gospel they will see how it will require radical life change.
Fourth, they must become genuine seekers of God. They must really want to know the truth and how it affects them.
Fifth, they must believe.
An atheist claims there is no God. What is their evidence for this belief? Being willing to engage them on this would be a first step for you in building a trust relationship. It will take some time because these lines of evidence are not quickly evaluated and answered. Perhaps as the atheist sees your genuine love for him or her there will be a curiosity developed about why you are who you are and what role Jesus plays in that. If the atheist is able to see that his or her view does not answer life’s most basic questions he or she might be open to radical life change. If they become genuine seekers you might be instrumental in helping them through this process of seeking. And finally you might help challenge them to get off the fence and believe.
We’re talking about a long term commitment to a person with genuine love and a readiness to engage in difficult discussions. And yes, it will require prayer for the right words and the right heart toward this person.