Asking the right questions is very important, isn’t it? Although Calvin’s topic is graphic violence and the media, I would suggest that we Christians often don’t ask the right questions, especially when it comes to the issue of sharing the gospel.
Saved as a teenager, I recall being challenged to “lovingly” confront people with the claims of Christ whenever I had the opportunity. Don’t get me wrong — I am convinced, like the Apostle Paul, that we are under obligation to share the Good News with everyone.
But only recently have I learned about using questions in sharing my faith. Rather than speaking direct, in-your-face propositions, I’m learning to ask questions — about a person’s job, family, hobbies — before diving into gospel issues. How is it right for me to challenge people about their eternity when I haven’t asked them anything about their now and their before?
I’m learning that, in a sense, conversations are more to be pursued than conversions. I certainly want people to become converted, but first I need to show them my interest in them as persons.
One of the many books in my stack of TO READ is the book Questioning Evangelism by Randy Newman. This book is subtitled “Engaging People’s Hearts the Way Jesus Did.” (I once did a paper on “The Interrogatory Method of Jesus.” Email me for a copy if you’re interested).
Some reviewers of Newman’s book have written: “Viewed from the evangelical perspective, this book borders on the profound. Viewed from any perspective, Newman brings a new meaning to the word evangelism. With huge amounts of compassion, Newman brings apologetics into evangelism and provides practical examples of how to evangelize by asking questions rather than giving answers. An excellent book for folks who want to communicate with their non-Christian friends without being a bigot.” (William M. Easum Resource Shelf 2005-01-02)
“In an age where evangelistic programs are as numerous as declining churches, it is refreshing to find a text that does not propose another memorized Gospel presentation. Newman states, “The goal of Questioning Evangelism is to help people know how to think about an issue more than what to think.” Newman’s “better way” involves answering questions with questions; not for the sake of evasion but to allow the non-Christian to discover the underlying issue. Newman states, “At times (far too many, I’m afraid), I’ve answered questions with biblically accurate, logically sound, epistemologically watertight answers, only to see questioners shrug their shoulders. My answers, it seemed, only further confirmed their opinion that Christians are simpletons.” (William E. Brown Faith & Mission 2006-07-01)
So many evangelistic techniques are concerned with what to say. We rarely consider what to ask. As Calvin reminds us, “The trick is to ask the right question!”