Any Questions? Whoever said, “Seek to understand before being understood,” gave great counsel. Specific, gentle questions asked with a listening heart help clarify communication, solve problems and build relationships. That’s why such queries can also be powerful evangelism tools. Here are some that can work well in eternal conversations.
What do you mean by that? This question ensures that you both speak the same “language.” If a person says, “I’m a Christian,” ask, “What do you mean by ‘Christian’?” You’ll quickly know exactly where they are coming from. Don’t try to correct an errant idea here – just get to know their perspective.
What do you base that on? You will often discover that people just assume what they believe or that they have inherited rather than investigated their beliefs. If someone says that they buy into reincarnation, simply ask, “Interesting! What makes you believe that?”
How do you know that is true? Now you will discover where their faith rests. You may hear, “That’s just what I believe,” or perhaps, “I’m not sure it’s true, but I’m comfortable with it.” Sooner or later, someone will answer, “I don’t believe in truth.” What a great opportunity!
What if you are wrong? Be careful here as they may hear this question as an arrogant attack. Ask it with concern and compassion. You’ll find that common answers include, “I don’t know,” or “Well, I hope I’m not,” or “I haven’t thought about that.” The answer to this question can give you a tremendous base from which to present Christ.
I’ve asked these questions of many people, in many countries, in many contexts. These include folks who grew up in church, others who believe in reincarnation, and a worshipper of Wodan on a hilltop in Germany. A Canadian girl who mixes Catholicism with Hinduism, whose husband sees evangelicalism as the same engine that drove the Crusades. These questions helped build relationships with an evolutionary geology professor, an evangelistic Muslim and even a young mother on a capital murder jury. Every question forged another link in the gospel communication chain, and now and again, right into eternity.
Asking the right questions is my single most valuable tool in relational outreach, after listening. Why not try it for yourself? (Picture notation below)
Blog entry by Rick Oglesby
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