In November 2018, Northwestern Publishing House released the book Quick to Listen: Understanding Viewpoints that Challenge Your Faith. This new title prepares readers to share their faith with Christian compassion as they encounter evolutionists, atheists, Bible skeptics, and members of the LGBTQ community in their daily lives.
Through the book’s written accounts and exclusive interviews, individuals from these four groups share their stories to explain why they hold their particular beliefs. The readers and pastor-authors then consult Scripture as they reflect on these challenging experiences and perspectives. Together, they look to God for the guidance and understanding they need to share the message of salvation with these groups.
Rev. Christopher Doerr, Garden Homes, Milwaukee, Wis., is one of the authors of Quick to Listen. He is joined by Rev. Samuel Degner, professor of evangelism and New Testament at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis.; Rev. Nick Schmoller, professor of theology and foreign language at Martin Luther College (MLC), New Ulm, Minn.; and Rev. Luke Thompson, pastor at St. Paul, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
When writing this book, Doerr often thought back to his time as a student at a secular college. There he learned that opening up about his faith with those who identify as members of the groups featured in this book was much more than a one-sided conversation.
“‘Friendship evangelism’ is knowing how to listen and ask questions, not just responding with what’s in your heart,” Doerr says. “We need to be in touch with people’s doubts and concerns regarding Christianity.”
With this in mind, Doerr and the other authors aim to make Quick to Listen a tool to help readers show Christlike care for the people who challenge Christianity. The readers’ efforts to share the good news of Christ can then be seen as what they truly are: expressions of that care and not simply counterarguments.
Rev. Mark Paustian, professor of English and Hebrew at MLC, wrote the foreword to Quick to Listen. He uses the text to teach apologetics classes—courses that focus on defending Christianity against differing beliefs.
“I’m deeply concerned for the faith of my students, and I need to be confident that the study we’re taking up together is truly edifying to their souls,” Paustian says. “I’m convinced Quick to Listen has been. I can say our discussions are exciting, even profound. I think there are countless Christians out there who hunger for such an experience.”
Paustian appreciates that Quick to Listen approaches apologetics through studies of real people. He believes this practical and human element is critical to sharing the gospel effectively.
“These accounts and interviews impress upon readers the need to understand people, not just worldly issues and arguments,” he explains. “The key is first to invest enough time trying to understand what’s really going on with the particular person God has put in front of us in a given moment. Quick to Listen makes that simple idea come alive.”