SOME PLANNING GUIDELINES
- Get your purpose clear. What do you wish to see accomplished? What do you want to teach?
- Planning Committee: Ideally representatives from both Muslim and Christian sides should be involved in the planning from beginning to end. Planning should be conducted in as pleasant and rational a manner as possible. It should not be rushed. Planners should not feel pressured or intimidated. Ideally planning should begin a year in advance, certainly no less than three months.
- Speaker: It is important but usually not easy to find a speaker
who is experienced in communicating with Muslims. Do contact us (,
) for recommended speakers in your area. At the first
suggestion of a possible meeting, contact your potential speaker and discuss with him/her
the time of the meeting and the concerns which follow.
- Topic: Preferably one, possibly two. It should be broad enough to be interesting and narrow enough to be dealt with adequately. Avoid the trap of trying to cover too much ground. Each group should avoid being put on the defensive alone: e.g., if Muslims suggest as a topic "Is the Bible true?" then the Christian should suggest a parallel topic "Is the Qur'an true?" If Muslims reject the latter, then Christians should reject the former. See Ernie Hahn's Reflections of a Christian on Muslim/Christian Dialogue/Debate on Campus for further discussion on this.
Usually it seems best for both sides to limit their presentations of the topic to their own faith perspectives. Occasional reference to the faith of the other for purposes of clarification or contrast should be permitted, however, particularly in the question period.
- Debate, Dialogue, Panel or what?
- Chairman. Obviously someone as "neutral" and fair as possible, who also has at least some grasp of the subject.
- Time framework?
- Allow time for rebuttal and questions (see below).
- Question Period:
- Questions should be related to the topic, written and handed in (see the end for a sample form). Questions addressed to the Muslim speaker should be sorted out and selected by two Christians who have some knowledge of Islam and vice versa for the Christian speaker.
- You can either take questions from the floor with microphones, or have them written down and handed in. We recommend the latter for it helps to avoid irrelevant questions, heated exchanges, and allows more time for the experts to speak.
- Literature Distribution:
- Should your speaker's presentation be mimeographed and distributed to the audience as they enter?
- Christians should have a small supply of Gospels (Luke or John) or tracts on subjects of vital concern to most Muslims (e.g., Is Jesus the Son of God?, Is the Holy Injil Corrupted?) One of the most important things they could do is to distribute these items to Muslim friends whom they meet during the course of the evening.
- Set your Book Table up an hour beforehand to catch the early birds. Have free Bibles and Bible portions in modern English, Arabic, Urdu, Persian and Turkish. Also have some free leaflets in these languages geared to Muslims.
Have a few items for sale but keep these to a minimum. We would suggest a few apologetic works such as Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Mere Christianity, and a few written specifically for Muslims. Our experience however, is that free literature moves well but very little is sold.
Have at least three people managing the book table, so that two are free to talk with any interested persons. As some Muslims may not wish to be seen talking with Christians or selecting Christian literature, it might be good to set another table off to the side with free literature and Bible portions.
- Christian Presence, Preparation and Follow-up: The speaker is not the only important person. Nor are the few students involved in preliminary discussions with Muslims. As many students as possible should be encouraged to become involved. Some considerations:
- Prayer. Must surround the meeting and its preparation.
- Preparatory classes and reading on the Islamic faith, sharing your faith with Muslims, and how to most effectively use the debate as a means of testifying of our love for the Saviour.
- Literature distribution, as above.
- Personal contact with Muslims before, during and after the event. Learning from and sharing with them. Christian students should be encouraged to go out of their way in order to meet a Muslim during the evening of the meeting.
- Follow-up of Muslim friends/acquaintances.
Regardless of the manner and content of the Muslim presentation Christians must converse and behave in a manner worthy of the Lord. Loving one's neighbour as oneself applies to this kind of event also. We must make a genuine effort to understand the Muslim and his faith. This is one expression of our love for him. Seeing you, will they be inclined to talk with you later, to take away some Christian literature, to want friendship with you?
The history of Muslim-Christian relations, with a few pleasant exceptions, is characterized by animosity and conflict, 1400 years of it. Remember, patience is a gift of God's Holy Spirit.
- Filming: Christians would be wise to film the proceedings independently and not be dependent upon the Muslims.
- Preparatory Materials:
Muslim-Christian Debates on Video and Cassette:
Deedat-McDowell well Debate in Durban, Was Christ Crucified?
(Audiocassettes only - 2 tapes)
Don Tingle. Islam & Christianity. Four half-hour lectures.
Islam and Christianity. IVP pamphlet.
Pastor Sundar Krishnan, The Heart of the Gospel.
Ernie Hahn. Reflections of a Christian on Muslim/Christian
Dialogue/Debate on Campus
How to Share your Faith with a Muslim
Understanding Some Muslim Misunderstandings.
Cragg. "Each Other's Faith". The Muslim World April,1955.
- Literature Distribution:
Deedat-McDowell Debate (Audiocassettes only)
Is Jesus the Son of God?
John Gilchrist's pamphlets are dealing with many areas of controversy between Muslims and Christians.
E. Hahn. The Integrity of the Bible according to the Qur'an and the Hadith
Is the Holy Injil Corrupted?
Bible portions in Islamic languages - FFM, CBS.
Bibles - Gideons World Home Bible League.
J.N.D. Anderson. Christianity: The Witness of History. Tyndale,1969.
- Conclusion: Can Christians see meetings between Muslims and Christians as an opportunity from God and for God? Can they see these meetings as a call for each to understand the other? What an opportunity, so rarely available, to invite the Muslim to examine the Bible and to "taste and see how gracious the Lord is".
A wonderful enough opportunity that Christians, rather than waiting for Muslims to initiate, themselves would extend an invitation.
Most of the above mentioned resources can be ordered from:
Fellowship of Faith
P.O. Box 65214
Toronto, Canada M4K 3Z2
Answering Islam Home Page