Many students were dragged to church at a young age by a parent or grandparent simply because it was the proper thing to do. At church they would hear things like “love your neighbor” and “turn the other cheek” when they had friends who were excommunicated from the church for a teenage pregnancy or for “coming out.” The hypocrisy that they felt was personal and affected many of them in a number of ways. So…I would start this conversation by asking more questions. What this person is struggling with is a surface knowledge of God, with apathy, laziness, and hurt. Start by asking questions to hear their story and get them to think about what they really believe, and then… let them experience Jesus.
Christians are hypocrites
Organized religion is stifling and doesn’t let me be me.
I know there is higher existence but it doesn’t really affect my life personally.
I don’t need church to believe in God or to be a good person.
“God” is not a person with whom to have a relationship… more of an abstract concept.
Dig a little deeper to discover what the person means by “religion” and what type of god the person believes in. Perhaps inquire as to how they have come to hold those beliefs (ie. Family influence, books they have read, movies they have watched, etc.)
Ask them if they had one or two bad experiences a person of another ethnicity, would they write off that ethnicity entirely? They also shouldn’t take the same approach with the church.
Ask them as well to explain how believing in “a god” has affected their life. I would guess it’s kind of like the bike you have in your garage that you never use. Don’t you want to take it out and see how much better your life would be if you actually used it?
Identifying with their frustration over hypocrisy would build trust. Acknowledge that there are many ways that Christians fall short of really living out the Christian message…But that churches do a lot of good things as well (give an example of how your church helps the poor.)
Share the Gospel with them. Say, “I would like to share a story with you, God’s story of the world and how you fit into it. It is a story of love. I can’t speak for all churches and what they teach and how they teach it and how they organize things, but what I do know is that God is interested in knowing you. God wants to know you and wants you to know him. Would you like to hear that story?”