88 – Conversations and Questions With Doubters

by Jill McKinley

Engaging in conversations about faith, especially with challenging individuals, requires a thoughtful approach. Greg Koukl’s book, “Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions,” provides a wealth of strategies for effectively communicating your beliefs while fostering meaningful dialogue. This dense book is a treasure trove of wisdom for anyone looking to navigate the often complex terrain of religious discussions.

The Essence of Tactics

Koukl emphasizes the importance of embodying the virtues of the kingdom when discussing faith. Knowledge and wisdom alone are insufficient if not accompanied by character and integrity. The concept of “tactical wisdom” is central to his approach. It involves using well-honed skills to inform and engage others without making them feel like they are part of a strategy.

Understanding Strategy vs. Tactics

Koukl differentiates between strategy and tactics, where strategy involves the big picture, and tactics are the specific actions taken to position oneself effectively in a conversation. He stresses that the goal is not to overwhelm or deceive but to present information in the best possible way.

Engaging in Dialogue

Effective dialogue is key. Koukl advises against using tactics to belittle or humiliate others. Instead, he advocates for assertiveness balanced with kindness and respect. This approach encourages open and honest communication, aiming to win hearts rather than debates.

The Columbo Tactic

One of Koukl’s most notable techniques is inspired by the TV detective Columbo, who uses simple, non-threatening questions to uncover the truth. By asking questions like, “What do you mean by that?” or “How did you come to that conclusion?”, you can engage others in a thoughtful discussion without being confrontational. This method helps clarify their positions and allows for a deeper exploration of the issues at hand.

Putting a Stone in Someone’s Shoe

Koukl’s goal is not necessarily to convert someone on the spot but to leave them with something to ponder—what he calls “putting a stone in someone’s shoe.” This means offering insights or questions that stick with them, encouraging further reflection.

Real-Life Applications

Koukl shares practical examples and responses to common objections. For instance, when someone claims that the Bible cannot be trusted because it was written by men who make mistakes, Koukl suggests asking if they trust other books written by humans. This simple comparison can prompt deeper thinking about the reliability of the Bible.

The Power of Questions

Asking the right questions can also expose the superficiality of some objections. For example, when discussing the Big Bang theory, asking, “How do you know the Big Bang happened without any divine intervention?” can challenge assumptions and open up new avenues for discussion.


Greg Koukl’s “Tactics” offers valuable insights for anyone looking to engage in meaningful conversations about faith. By focusing on respectful dialogue, asking thoughtful questions, and aiming to leave a lasting impression, you can navigate these discussions more effectively. Remember, the goal is to plant seeds of thought and let them grow over time, rather than trying to hit a home run in every conversation.


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