I feel like I have recently come over a major mountain pass in my efforts to grow and understand Biblical evangelism. I have often struggled with this personally. I look around and see the cheap salesmanship methods of “winning” people to Christ and I am left more than a little flat, it seems that so few of the “converts” ever bear fruit. We know from the parable of the sower that only what bears fruit counts. On the other hand, I have not seen a great harvest of souls from my own efforts. I have spoken to many people, made many invitations to church, given out Bibles and tracts, and have still felt like something was missing. In the last few weeks I started listening to some messages by Michael Ramsden- I have another post about him from last week- a guy from Ravi Zacharias ministries. I also began reading a book by Randy Newman (which I found in the footnotes of Mark Dever’s book- “The gospel and Personal Evangelism”, which I would also recommend). This book is called “Questioning Evangelism,” and it is not challenging the act of evangelism, but proposing that in the process of doing this we spend a lot more time asking questions than just giving answers. I cannot agree with everything that he says, but it appears to me that this man has a heart for God and for the lost. I have not finished the book yet, but in the first 60 pages I feel like a light has come on that has been missing for many years.
He offers several reasons to use questions, rather than just giving answers. He doesn’t give his reasons just this way, but this is kind of what I have come away with: What is so good about using questions?
- This is the most common method of Jesus. He asks questions of people in responses to their questions or statements far more often than he gives an answer. For example, the to the rich young ruler he says, “why do you call me good” (Mark 10:17-18); when asked about taxes he asks for a coin and whose image is on it (Matt 22:17-20); When asked about healling on the sabbath he asks a question about a situation where a sheep falls in a pit (Matt 12:9-12).
- He also says that asking questions can help us get out of a defensive position, and put the person challenging us on the defense by asking them to explain what they believe. People often enjoy making us squirm by asking us to do this, and little do they know how difficult it is to articulate you own faith commitments.
- It can help to disarm a person by showing that we are not just interested in an argument.
- It can be a great way to show love to people, because when we ask questions- and then really listen we are showing genuine interest in their lives and what they believe.
- Questions can help a person to wrestle with and see their own assumptions and inconsistencies, often in a way that is more effective than if we told them.
- Asking questions and having dialogue creates the potential for a relationship, and that is a much better way to share the gospel than giving a sales pitch.
I hope you buy this book, read it, and put it into action. I have already started to ask more questions when I speak to people and I elated!