Diaspora Missions

Overcoming Barriers to Sharing the Gospel with Your Muslim Neighbors

Post Icon

As I stepped into my neighbors’ home, I walked right in without taking my shoes off and proceeded to offer my hand to greet the family. I made eye contact and smiled at each person as I said hello. I received odd looks, and the grandmother made a disapproving noise in the back of her throat. I instantly felt uncomfortable and realized I had made a mistake, but I did not know what that mistake was.

Being invited over for dinner by new friends is exciting. However, by the end of this particular visit, I felt overwhelmed and ignorant. My new friends were Muslims who had immigrated to America from Afghanistan, and they wanted to show me hospitality. I quickly realized I knew little about my new friends, their culture, and their beliefs. In my ignorance, I had offended them, inadvertently creating a barrier to sharing the gospel.

Maybe, like me, you have made cultural miscues in your attempts to share the gospel with Muslims. Perhaps you fear engaging your Muslim neighbors with the gospel because you do not know what obstacles you might face. Below are three common barriers to sharing the gospel with your Muslim neighbors and a few suggestions for navigating them with humility:

1. Cultural Barriers: Hospitality

Many Muslims come from cultures where hospitality is a significant part of their lives. For my Afghani friends, hospitality shows that you respect them and desire a relationship with them. Failing to recognize the stress and cultural pressures on immigrants or failing to adapt your expectations of hospitality may create barriers to evangelizing Muslims.

Being unaware of cultural differences may create confusion, misunderstandings, and frustration as your cultural missteps are received as acts of disrespect. Getting to know your Muslim neighbor with an open and humble spirit—coming to them as a learner interested in their culture—will help to avoid possible frustration and misunderstandings.

Being a good host may look like offering your guest food and tea while presenting them the best seat in your house. When having your Muslim neighbor over, expect the visit to be long. Allow time in your day for your guests to stay through the meal and late into the evening as you share stories with each other. The host should never ask the guest to leave or hint it is time to go.

As a guest in a Muslim home, bring a small gift to show your appreciation for their invitation. If possible, try to find out things they enjoy, such as fine chocolates, nuts, dried fruits, spices, or special teas. When you come into their home and do not already know the answer, ask if they would like you to remove your shoes. Some cultures sit on the floor to eat and converse and walking around with your shoes on is disrespectful to their home. Accept their offerings of drink and food and show your appreciation for their gift.

Showing hospitality is not difficult. It can require a mindset change and more intentionality than many of us are used to, but you may find sweet friends and a lot of joy in the many hours spent talking and laughing over food and drink with your neighbors.

2. Religious Barriers: The Quran vs. Jesus

Many people believe Muslims revere the Quran in the same way Christians revere the Bible. After all, both are the holy texts of their respective religions. However, Muslims regard the Quran the way Christians regard Jesus, and not understanding this distinction can cause barriers to sharing the gospel with Muslims.

For Christians, the eternal Word of God is Jesus, not the Bible. God the Son came to earth as Jesus incarnate. Christians have an intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ the Son, God himself. While the Bible is how Christians encounter Christ and come to learn God’s redemptive story as well as how we play a role in that story, it is not divine and it is not eternally preexistent like the Son of God.

For Muslims, the Quran is the eternal Word of Allah himself. The Quran is not the product of divine inspiration through human authors but rather the eternally inspired expression of Allah himself—merely inscribed by the prophet Mohammad. For Muslims, the Quran is as close to Allah as one can get until death.

Because Christians believe that Jesus is the eternal Word of God, they do not hold the Bible to the same level of reverence as Muslims do with the Quran. Instead, try to consider that Muslims revere the Quran like Christians revere Jesus. Dishonoring the Quran would be like someone dishonoring Jesus. When evangelizing Muslims, try to be clear about who Jesus is and his preeminence over all things. This will help you clarify that Jesus is more than just a prophet; he is the Savior and he is God.

3. Heart Barriers: Fears and Stereotypes

Oftentimes the largest barrier to sharing the gospel with Muslims is found within our own hearts. We have a heart issue that keeps us away from our Muslim neighbors and from sharing the gospel with them. The heart issue may be fear, apathy, or prejudice.

We must combat the lies that say Muslims are scary, violent, and not worth our time or that someone else will share the gospel with them. These are all lies from the enemy and are a trap many Western Christians fall into. While some Muslims radicalize, the stereotypes and fears in our hearts do not excuse us from loving our neighbors and sharing the gospel with them. Do not let your fear, apathy, or prejudice keep you from being obedient to share the gospel with Muslims.

When these lies creep into your heart, pray that God would change your heart to love your Muslim neighbors as God loves them. If you are afraid, ask for confidence in the transforming power of the gospel (Rom. 1:16). If you have prejudices, ask that God would help you get to know your neighbors and see them as people in need of a Savior. If you are apathetic and are waiting for someone else to evangelize them, ask that God would rekindle your passion for his glory among the nations and make you eager and obedient to walk through open doors. Our God is good and faithful; he answers our prayers.

While we cannot learn every language or every aspect of every culture, we can have gospel intentionality toward our Muslim neighbors.

God desires that all come to know Christ (1 Tim. 2:4), and that includes our Muslim neighbors who have been displaced from their homes. The nations have come to our doors, and we have a responsibility to share Jesus’s love with those who do not know him.

While we cannot learn every language or every aspect of every culture, we can have gospel intentionality toward our Muslim neighbors. Do not let your fear of the unknown hinder you from sharing the gospel with Muslims. Spend time in prayer, get to know your Muslim neighbors, and trust the Holy Spirit to guide you as you begin an exciting journey of befriending Muslims from all over the world.

  • Diaspora Missions
  • Great Commission
  • Other World Views
  • Women
Jenna Burchett

Jenna Burchett moved from New Hampshire to North Carolina in 2016 for her BS in Global Studies at The College at Southeastern and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jenna has served in various missions contexts both nationally and internationally, including a semester with Hands On through the International Mission Board. Jenna and her husband, Chad, hope to move overseas one day and minister in an underserved region.

CGCS Newsletter Coming Soon!

Sign Up Now!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.