Both the Qur‘an and Islamic tradition erect barriers which inhibit Muslims from considering who Jesus is and what He’s done for them.
Muslims are often taught
- to assume Mohammed is superior to Jesus.
- to fear the corrupting influence of “Christian” culture.
- a misrepresentation of Christian doctrine.
- not to have Christian friends.
- to believe the Bible has been corrupted.
Yet when Muslims are lovingly invited past these barriers to study or encounter Isa al-Masih (Jesus the Christ), they are often drawn strongly to Him.
Grab these first steps toward starting Disciple-Making Movements among your Muslim neighbors,1 from a variety of global workers on the field.
Let’s Start with The Basics.
Rely on the Holy Spirit.
Ask the Holy Spirit to give you His love for your Muslim neighbors and to reveal His love for them through you. Love casts out fear (1 Jn 4:18).
saturate your work in prayer.
Recruit others to pray regularly with and for you. Expect God to
- lead you to “persons of peace” (Luke 10:6).
- confirm His word with miracles (Matthew 10:8, Luke 10:9).
- give you the words to speak as you go in obedience (Matthew 10:18–20).
Look for “Persons of Peace”
Focus your time on good soil (Mark 4).
You could say, “A friend and I are looking for Muslims who love God and would be interested in studying the prophets we share through the Holy Scriptures. Do you know someone like that?”
Don’t settle just for a few Muslim friends. Keep praying and seeking until you’re primarily working with “Persons of Peace.”
What could it look like to Change up my approach?
Jesus discipled with bits of truth and let people seek more. After Pentecost, the believers often encountered people who believed immediately after hearing the gospel and were discipled more rapidly.
Both models are still working today.
Study the prophets together
Another common approach: Present the gospel only through studying the Bible together.
- With Muslims whose community respects the Qur‘an, open the Qur‘an for their reference as you study the Bible together. Then they can discover the Bible’s superiority for themselves in a way they can freely reproduce within their community.
- With Muslims who are indifferent or fed up with their religion and looking for something else, just use the Bible.
- And with Muslims who are personally uncomfortable handling religious books, try electronic media or printed excerpts in your discussions.
Where Can I find Muslims?
Unless you live among Muslim neighbors, you may need to go find them. Try this!
As God gives you opportunity, hang out with others who have Muslim friends as a way to meet and get comfortable with Muslims.
Once you’re comfortable, draw others along to help them get started. Visit halal restaurants and other places where relaxed conversation can occur. (Use zabihah.com to identify Muslim gathering places in your area.)
Pray and then visit a mosque together, if you sense God’s leading. Try to engage in a personal conversation.
Look for opportunities to befriend or be hospitable to your Muslim neighbors, and especially to enjoy meals together as a way to deepen relationships.
And when you make a Muslim friend, celebrate overcoming 1,300 years of conflict!
- Greet Muslims with “As-salam alaykum” (peace be upon you).
- Expect productive conversations to run past midnight.
- Respect religious books by never putting them on the floor or in other “unclean” places.
- Ask Muslim friends to help you be sensitive to their customs.
How Can I Relate Spiritually to my Muslim neighbors?
Clarify your spiritual identity.
When asked if you are a Christian, ask what they mean by that word before answering.
Try a version of this response:
I was born into a nation where a lot of people call themselves “Christian.”
What I’ve learned is that God wants me to love and submit to Him by obeying all the commands of Jesus. That’s how I seek to live.
What would you call me?
Pray with Muslim NEIGHBORS for their needs.
Muslims seek God’s blessing, and many are open to receiving it through Isa al-Masih.
You can help them experience God by offering to pray with them.
They may be happy for you to pray with them for God’s blessing, healing, guidance, deliverance, and protection.
Confusion often arises from different meanings for shared terms.
Ask what your Muslim friend means by such words as “Muslim” and “Christian,” and explain where you mean something different.
Follow Jesus’ example: Lead others to discover and obey truth through stories and questions. Consider employing Discovery Bible Study or Bible Storytelling.
Train Muslims to receive God’s guidance.
When Muslims ask your opinion on spiritual stuff, teach them to rely on God’s Word and the Holy Spirit rather than you.
Ask the Spirit’s guidance to lead them to a relevant Bible story. Have them read or listen to the full book for context and to raise additional questions.
Then pray together for direct insight from God, asking God to reveal what He wants them to know.
Ask, “What did God say?” and “What will you do?”
Help them learn to test the spirits and recognize God’s voice through confirmation from His Word for what they receive.
Aim for Multiplication.
Seek to bless whole families.
As you meet individuals, pray for God to bless their whole family and community. With your whole family, befriend their whole family.
When a Muslim wants to argue their common objections (Son of God, Trinity, etc.), suggest looking together for answers in the Bible.
Ask questions and avoid arguing.
If they insist on arguing, listen actively to their heart and the Holy Spirit, validating their feelings: “It sounds like you feel angry about that,” etc.
Then suggest meeting again at a later time to study the facts together. The Holy Spirit may work in their heart in the meantime.
Consciously limit your time with those whose only desire is to argue.
Invite your first Muslim friend to bring a friend. Meet in public if they’d like.
Suggest they discuss what they are learning with their friends, family, and leaders. If they fail to do these things, seek out others who will.
Your goal is a discipling movement, not scattered individuals.
Honor parents and authorities.
In obedience to the Scripture, affirm parents and others in authority rather than sowing disrespect.
This may open opportunities for sharing directly with those in authority.
When Muslims want to bring others to an established study after the second meeting, decline to disrupt this group and offer instead to help them start a new study with their friend, family, or even religious leaders.
Continue learning from other global workers.
Meet regularly with other local Christians to
- learn from each others’ successes,
- identify hindrances to fruitfulness, and
- pray for your Muslim friends.
Take advantage of the excellent resources and training which are increasingly available.
Trust the Holy Spirit.
Don’t try to dictate what
- Muslims who begin to follow Jesus should call themselves.
- religious observances they should embrace or reject.
- gatherings they should or shouldn’t attend.
Instead, train new believers to seek and receive the Holy Spirit’s guidance by studying His Word with other followers of Isa al-Masih.
God is at work in unprecedented ways to fulfill His promise to Abraham: “I will surely bless [Ishmael]” (Gen. 17:20).
Yet 1.6 billion Muslims live with a mixture of truth and error, awaiting the movement of God’s Spirit to lead them on a “Straight Path” into His kingdom.
God has brought Muslims to your doorstep.
Will you seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance and empowering to participate in opening the door for Disciple-Making Movements among them?
A beloved son of God, Robby Butler is a Jesus-follower and mobilization strategist serving networks, ministries, and individuals toward more effectively multiplying movements of Jesus followers until there’s no place left where Jesus isn’t preached and Matthew 24:14 is fulfilled.
He is General Director for Mission Network, production manager for Steve Smith’s “No Place Left” saga, editor for James Nyman’s “Stubborn Perseverance,” and a consultant with Ergatas.org, a matching service to facilitate collaboration between missionaries and senders.
Robby helps out with Mission Frontiers occasionally and mostly researches what is working best to advance God’s kingdom then distills this to equip others for greater missions productivity.
A version of this piece originally appeared on MissionFrontiers.org, and is gratefully used with permission.