The Power of Questions: Friendlier Evangelism

Elsewhere I have observed the strategic power of facilitating Bible discovery through simple, open-ended questions (in place of “telling others what the Bible means”).

I have also described the power of questions in Any-3 to guide a conversations in which the other person:

  • describes their beliefs,
  • identifies their lostness,
  • welcomes your testimony and gospel presentation, then
  • considers your invitation to follow Jesus.

Yet somehow I have continued thinking of evangelism mainly in terms of presenting biblical truth for others’ consideration.

It wasn’t until I read  Greg Koukl’s Tactics that I began to realize how revolutionary questions can also be for engaging lost people.

Questions can be powerfully destructive.

Satan deceived Eve in Genesis 3:1 by questioning Eve with a corrupted version of what God had said to Adam—the first question recorded in the Bible:

“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Note that this question distorts what God really said, so that neither “Yes” nor “No” is true.)

But questions can also be powerfully restorative.

Instead of blasting our forefathers with truth, God Himself turned to open-ended questions in His long pursuit of mankind amidst after our first experience of shame:

  • Where are you? (v. 9)
  • Who told you that you were naked? (v. 11)
  • Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from? (v. 11)
  • What is this you have done? (v. 13)

Through such questions God showed He cares what we are thinking and experiencing.

The power of questions in evangelism.

Tactics rests on the awareness that atheism, and every other religion and philosophy that competes with biblical truth, is inherently flawed.

If, as we believe, the Bible reveals truth fully consistent with the world around us, this gives us a tremendous advantage in any discussion. However we need to be intentional about applying it.

In Tactics, Greg introduces a simple strategy for growing in effective witness:

  • Ask questions with a genuine interest in understanding what others really think.
  • Look for logical issues such as asserting that evil exists while denying God’s existence.
  • Gently ask questions to reveal flaws in what others think (or have been taught).
  • Review and learn from each encounter.
  • Be satisfied with leaving others dissatisfied with their current beliefs.

Tactics provides a road map for

  • learning to ask questions that loosen people from the lies that blind them to the truth,
  • while honoring them by showing genuine interest in what they think.

In Western culture today, Christianity is under heavy attack by views that

  • are highly intolerant of intolerance (moral inconsistency),
  • embrace science yet ignore the scientific against naturalism (logical inconsistency),
  • define a fetus as human unless the mother consents to kill it (more inconsistency), etc.

Tactics is a great tutorial for engaging Western culture by illuminating the darkness rather than simply trying to defend the light.