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Is There a Better Way to Evangelize?

28 Jun Posted by in Sneak Peeks | Comments Off on Is There a Better Way to Evangelize?
Is There a Better Way to Evangelize?

Is There a Better Way to Evangelize?

 

Excerpt taken from 

Questioning Evangelism 

by Randy Newman 

 

© 2017 Kregel Publications

 

We can have better results from our evangelizing. Our efforts can produce more fruit, advancing the kingdom further than has been recently achieved. A better way exists, and it looks, sounds, and feels more like Jesus, the rabbi, than like Murray, the used-car salesman. It involves more listening than speaking, inviting rather than demanding a decision. Perhaps the most important component to this kind of evangelism is answering questions with questions rather than giving answers.

Maybe I think this way-responding to questions with questions-because I’m Jewish. I grew up with dialogues that went like this:

 

Randy: How’s the weather down there?

 

Granny Belle: How could the weather be in Florida in the middle of July?

 

Or

 

Randy: So, how have you been?

 

Uncle Nat: Why do you ask?

 

Or

 

Randy: How’s your family?

 

Aunt Vivian: Compared to whom?

 

I’d like to think, though, that I answer questions with questions because I’m following the example of Jesus. It’s uncanny how often our Lord answered a question with a question.

A rich man asked Jesus, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” That question was a great setup for a clear, concise gospel presentation. I can almost hear a disciple whispering in Jesus’s ear, “Take out the booklet.” How could Jesus not launch into the most perfect model for every evangelistic training seminar for all time? But how did he respond? He posed a question, “Why do you call me good?” (Mark 10:17-18).

When religious leaders asked Jesus if it was right to pay taxes, Jesus referred to a coin and asked, “Whose image is this?” (Matt. 22:20). When the Pharisees, “looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus,” asked Him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” Jesus’s response was a question: “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?” (Matt. 12:10-11).

I once did a study of how Jesus answered every question that was asked of Him in all four gospels. Answering a question with a question was the norm. A clear, concise, direct answer was a rarity.

So when I answer a question with a question, I’d like to think I’m following the example of Jesus, but to be honest, I most likely do it because I become tired. After years of answering the questions of nonbelievers, I grow tired of my answers being rejected.

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. My answers had, in fact, hardened them in their unbelief rather than softened them toward faith. I realized that, instead of moving people closer to a salvation decision, an answer can push them further away. Rather than engaging their minds or urging them to consider an alternate perspective, an answer can give them ammunition for future attacks against the gospel.

So I started answering questions with questions, and have gained far better results.

Once a team of skeptics confronted me. It was during a weekly Bible study for freshmen guys that we held in a student’s dorm room. The host of the study, in whose room we were meeting, had been telling us for weeks of his roommate’s antagonistic questions. This week, the roommate showed up-along with a handful of like-minded friends.

The frequently asked question of exclusivity arose, more an attack than a sincere inquiry.

“So, I suppose you think all those sincere followers of other religions are going to hell!”

“Do you believe in hell?” I responded.

He appeared as if he’d never seriously considered the possibility. He looked so puzzled, perhaps because he was being challenged when he thought that he was doing the challenging. After a long silence, he said, “No. I don’t believe in hell. I think it’s ridiculous.”

Echoing his word choice, I said, “Well, then why are you asking me such a ridiculous question?”

I wasn’t trying to be a wise guy. I simply wanted him to honestly examine the assumptions behind his own question. His face indicated that I had a good point, and that he was considering the issues of judgment, eternal damnation, and God’s righteousness for the first time in his life.

The silence was broken by another questioner, who chimed in, “Well, I do believe in hell. Do you think everyone who disagrees with you is going there?”

I asked, “Do you think anyone goes there? Is Hitler in hell?” (Hitler has turned out to be a helpful, if unlikely, ally in such discussions.)

“Of course, Hitler’s in hell.”

“How do you think God decides who goes to heaven and who goes to hell? Does He grade on a curve?”

From there, the discussion became civil for the first time, and serious interaction about God’s holiness, people’s sinfulness, and Jesus’s atoning work ensued. Answering questions with questions turned out to be a more effective, albeit indirect, way to share the gospel.

Another time when questioning worked better than answering

 

About Questioning Evangelism:

Sometimes the best answer is a question. It’s the way Jesus often talked with people as He led them into discussions about the issues that mattered most.

Randy Newman has been using a questioning style of evangelism for years. In this provocative book, he provides practical insights to help Christians engage others in meaningful spiritual conversations. Asking questions, Newman suggests, doesn’t tell unbelievers what to think but instead challenges how we think about people, their questions, and our message.

A perennial best-seller, the second edition includes a chapter in which the author reflects on the success of the book and what that has taught him, as well as a new foreword by Lee Strobel.

 

About Randy Newman:

 

Randy Newman is the Senior Fellow for Evangelism and Apologetics at The C. S. Lewis Institute in the Washington, DC area. He is also an adjunct faculty at Talbot School of Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary and Patrick Henry College.

After serving for more than 30 years with Campus Crusade for Christ, he established Connection Points, a ministry to help Christians engage people’s hearts the way Jesus did. He has written four books and numerous articles about evangelism and other ways our lives intertwine with God’s creation. He is a frequent conference speaker and specializes in helping people of different backgrounds dialogue about issues of faith.

 

Randy blogs at www.connectionpoints.us.

 

Randy Neman is available for interviews. For review copy and interview information, contact audra@litfusegroup.com.

 

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