Christians Not Participating in “Friendly” Dialogue?

Bill has noticed a strange occurrence on his blog, FriendlyChristian.com.

His readers are disappearing. More importantly, his Christian readers are disappearing.

When writing about what he may have done to alienate readers, he lists a few possible reasons:

Be a Christian that is openly relational with the arch enemy: the Atheists. Be promoted by Atheist websites. Read books written by Atheists. Comment on Atheist websites. Check, Check, Check

Sure, there are plenty of reasons people are attracted to (or not attracted to) certain blogs. But in this case, it’d be particularly unfortunate to lose the key demographic.

Bill even knows the gut reaction that many atheists will have upon hearing about the Christian exodus and promises not to back away:

From an Atheist perspective, what does this say about Christians? That we run away when someone challenges our faith? I’ll never be like that.

I disagree with one commenter’s explanation for all this, though:

… one of the best ways to share your experiences with Christ is in person. Most people are better at showing Christ rather than just telling them. People hear enough about Christ and it is hard to show [genuine] love via the internet.

Frm personal experience, I think most non-Christians would prefer the non-face-to-face contact when it comes to being a victim of evangelism. It’s so much easier to just click the X in the chat box…


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • Richard Wade

    I’m sorry to hear this. I hope it’s just a lull that comes to discussion groups. I like Bill’s site and I’ve visited it from time to time. Maybe I should support it more. Well, just like I say before a performance and somebody’s worried that not much of an audience will show up, “The important people always show up.” The unimportant people are the ones who don’t show up. From just a few it can grow back again.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    “… one of the best ways to share your experiences with Christ is in person. Most people are better at showing Christ rather than just telling them. People hear enough about Christ and it is hard to show [genuine] love via the internet.”

    Frm personal experience, I think most non-Christians would prefer the non-face-to-face contact when it comes to being a victim of evangelism. It’s so much easier to just click the X in the chat box…

    I think you misunderstood their point Hemant. Sounds to me like they were advocating living our faith, not just talking about it. I.e. not face to face evangelism, but genuine relationships and authentic demonstrations of love and concern for others.

  • Maria

    I think you misunderstood their point Hemant. Sounds to me like they were advocating living our faith, not just talking about it. I.e. not face to face evangelism, but genuine relationships and authentic demonstrations of love and concern for others.

    If they were, that would be a good idea. I go to that site and I do like it. I think, as some of the people on there said, that Christmas coming up probably contributes to the absence of Christians on there right now……

  • Steven Carr

    There are plenty of sites for Christians to visit, where an atheist is declared ‘an uninvited guest’ by the site owner.

    Perhaps those sites are preferred by Christians? I haven’t got figures to say one way or the other.

    As for ‘living the faith’ by ‘genuine relationships and authentic demonstrations of love and concern for others’, that is all well and good, but won’t convert many atheists, as such people do not reflect Jesus.

  • Arlen

    I’m a Christian, and I read FriendlyAtheist all the time. I didn’t know there was a FriendlyChristian website. Maybe I’ll check it out.

  • grazatt

    They guy is just not as cool as Hemant! That is why his site is failing.

  • txatheist

    I checked it out for awhile but got tired of it real quick. To me it was not an open dialouge but atheists would explain something and then the few xians were allowed to explain why we were wrong. I’m one of those atheists that doesn’t mind the face to face talks.

  • Aran

    To me it was not an open dialouge but atheists would explain something and then the few xians were allowed to explain why we were wrong.

    I agree that this appears to be the pattern on Bill’s blog. Atheists seem interested in dialogue but the group of Xtians who post most often appear to believe it is their faith-driven obligation to put an end to such dialogue. It’s gotten to the point where the Xtian guests are questioning the author’s faith for allowing non-Xtians to comment or raise questions. Who’s in charge over there?

    Honestly, the blog author’s heart isn’t really in his project, or maybe he jumped in without clearly defining his goals. Is it a Xtian forum? Is it a forum for open dialogue between people of diverse worldviews? Do Xtians get preferential treatment because the author is a Xtian?

    A little structure and administrative control would help, but I don’t see productive dialogue happening when the non-Xtians are under a gag-order and the Xtians are given free rein.

  • http://sirrobertsworld.blogspot.com/ Robert

    As a frequent visitor and contributor to Bill’s site AND an atheist.

    I have to say there have been some visitors to FC of the atheist persuasion who have mistaken some of the Christian posters passion for anger. This has caused some flare ups and ad hominem attacks.

    I think Bill has done the right thing to acknowledge the dearth of his Christian guests.

    I have met many Christians their and while agree with them on NEXT to NOTHING, most have been charitable and kind. (Darla, GG, InWorship, Nathan and others I have forgotten)

    Bill does need to take a stronger stance against ad hom attacks and act accordingly.

    I think he sees this now and he has pledged to act.

    Robert

  • Keith

    Sometimes websites run their course … don’t know if that’s the case with this one, but the single best blog I’ve been a part of was off-the-map’s discussion board which just got shut down because no one posts there anymore. So, Bill, start a new blog and give it everything you’ve got … just because something dies doesn’t mean it didn’t serve a purpose.

  • Kate

    Erik still reads it, I don’t know if he comments though.

  • Karen

    It may depend on whether the Christians on the site are/were open to understanding the atheist perspective or not. My experience with these discussions over the past couple of years is that the vast majority of fundamentalist Christians who stumble in don’t stick around very long (with a couple of rare exceptions).

    They arrive with the intent to evangelize and then they’re intrigued when they find out that atheists don’t fit all the evil stereotypes they hear about in church. This, in my view, is the positive outcome of these sites – at least they come to realize that atheists aren’t all baby-killers. ;-)

    However, once they get seriously challenged on their beliefs and they realize all the atheists have heard the gospel and found it flawed, there’s not much interest on their part in continuing the discussion. That’s when they disappear.

    There are pastors who warn believers not to associate with unbelievers and scriptures that tell them if their message is rejected to move on and “shake the dust off their feet” lest they be tainted by worldly types like us. So, I guess they’re just following the teaching they get. Either that, or they’re deeply threatened by some of the discussions and they run away out of fear.

  • http://skeptigator.com Skeptigator

    As a semi-frequent participant on FriendlyChristian’s blog and forum, I posted some of my thoughts in the comments and I’ll repeat them here. At first blush, Christmas seemed like a good reason but I don’t necessarily buy it. Bill has the posting stats I assume, he could figure out when the “die off” happened and I have a feeling it was well before the Christmas season.

    I will say some of the comment exchanges got pretty heated and may have generated a bit of animosity. And ironicly the Christians were the ones who may not have felt very welcome anymore.

    It’s a shame because Bill does a great job with the site and forum. It’s no small task to maintain a site where atheists and christians share a space. I just wish that if the Christians felt pushed out they would have spoken up instead of fading out.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    “… one of the best ways to share your experiences with Christ is in person. Most people are better at showing Christ rather than just telling them. People hear enough about Christ and it is hard to show [genuine] love via the internet.”

    I also disagree with this analysis. If it were true, there would be very few online blogs/ discussion groups/ etc. for Christians… and that’s clearly not the case.

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    Many Christians, if my friends and family are any indication, avoid opposing viewpoints because they think that opposition is tantamount to an attack from the devil. That is over-stating the issue but most will admit that they have to attend church on a regular basis and surround themselves with like minded people or worldly(e.g. rational) thoughts start to invade.

    Personally, I don’t like any system that requires constant indoctrination.

  • http://www.friendlychristian.com Bill Cecchini

    Hey guys, Bill from FriendlyChristian here…

    The site is anything but failing. Our numbers are steadily increasing. I’ve just seen a significant drop in the number of Christians who comment. I’m the type of person who’s gonna call it like I see it. That’s really all the post was about.

    I agree with MikeClawson & Skeptigator’s comment.

    @grazatt…
    You’re right. I’m definitely not as cool as Hemant. ;-)

    @Greta Christina…
    You’ll find that a surprising number or Christians (especially the younger/less traditional ones) will have the same mentality as me: live the gospel. Living the gospel isn’t limited to preaching, handing out bibles, or telling people about Jesus. To us it’s a more practical day-to-day lifestyle. Giving money, helping the poor, loving people, serving people, sharing our stories…things like that (as MikeClawson has said). We don’t hear from those people as much, though. Instead, you’ll find mainly the loud, outspoken RELIGIOUS Christians doing their thing on the Internet.

    I’m with the original FriendlyChristian commentor. I’m all about building relationships, having discussion, and getting to know a person. For me this is much easier to do in person. The website is just another medium.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    It may depend on whether the Christians on the site are/were open to understanding the atheist perspective or not.

    And vice versa.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    You’ll find that a surprising number or Christians (especially the younger/less traditional ones) will have the same mentality as me: live the gospel. Living the gospel isn’t limited to preaching, handing out bibles, or telling people about Jesus. To us it’s a more practical day-to-day lifestyle. Giving money, helping the poor, loving people, serving people, sharing our stories…things like that (as MikeClawson has said). We don’t hear from those people as much, though. Instead, you’ll find mainly the loud, outspoken RELIGIOUS Christians doing their thing on the Internet.

    Which is sort of obvious. If the Christians who believe more in action than in preaching are out acting and not preaching, then of course you’re mainly going to hear from the outspoken preacher evangelist types on blogs, etc. They’re the ones still doing the talking after all.

  • http://www.friendlychristian.com Bill Cecchini

    Exactly. What is a “liver” supposed to do if he/she also happens to host a blog? Can you have your cake and eat it too?

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    They guy is just not as cool as Hemant! That is why his site is failing.

    If this was the standard of blog success, all other sites would be hopeless :)

    (Thank you for the short-lived ego boost. I shall now go back to reading other blogs written by people so much cooler than me.)


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