This is the next in my series on evangelism, the first few can be found in the blog archives.
After dealing with the motivation for evangelism (loving Jesus and loving others) and the content of evangelism (lifestyle change & Jesus as Lord), it’s time to get into the mechanics of evangelism. How do we evangelize? When we ask that question, we’re typically looking for the silver bullet of evangelism that works every time and that’s not the point. The focus in regards to evangelism is simply talking about the gospel and doing it often using various methods. Just start seeking the Lord and then start talking about Him with others. Then you’ll learn the method of evangelism that is natural for you. So let’s discuss methods.
The first is Questioning Evangelism, which I’ll define as engaging people with questions regarding their beliefs rather than simply answering their questions about Christianity. You may be thinking, “That doesn’t make sense, if they ask a question, why wouldn’t I just answer it?” Well, let me tell you a story that ultimately forced me to figure out why I am horrible at evangelism.
My personal education
Last fall, during a family event, one of my family members asks me the question, “Logan, Do you think everyone has to go to church?” which resulted in me doing joyful back flips in my mind at the opportunity to talk about Jesus.
So I answered his question looking forward to the conversation that followed, only that’s when it ended with an “I agree”. Meanwhile my wife has taken this opportunity to start asking questions to the girl sitting next to her and spends the next hour outlining the gospel.
I sat there wondering, What did I do wrong? And why does this seem to always happen? And why is my wife better than me at doing this (I’m a little competitive)? It led me to listen to my wife as she was talking with the girl sitting next to her, and it led me to look at the scriptures, specifically the gospels to see how Jesus responded when people asked questions. This is what I found.
How did Jesus do it?
Many people came to Jesus with questions and he responded in ways I wouldn’t have thought. Luke 10:25-37 is a perfect example of questioning evangelism. A lawyer comes to test Jesus and asks “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Sounds like a simple question. Jesus responds with “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” The lawyer answers, Jesus agrees and seemingly moves on (not your typical evangelism training method). The lawyer then proceeds to ask another question, and then Jesus is able to speak to the real issue the lawyer is dealing with (hating his neighbor) that is keeping him from seeing the gospel.
What Jesus has done here is what I’ve seen other evangelists do that is natural for them, but was foreign to me, He’s drawn the lawyer into an engaging conversation while revealing the lawyer’s motives.
The same works with conversations we have regarding faith and Christianity. We’re typically quick to speak an answer and then the conversation is over with a simple “I agree.” When you engage a questioner with questions, a few things happen:
1) They are forced to articulate their belief system and worldview, which is something they have likely never had to do. This assists you in evangelism because it will show you where they stand in the spectrum of beliefs about God and allow you to speak the gospel directly to their worldview. Instead of being general, you can be specific.
2) You get to the heart of the issue. It is often more than curiosity that leads someone to ask a question about faith. They may have a conviction or have been wrestling with certain issues. If you never ask, you’ll never know their motivation behind the question.
3) You give them buy-in to the outcome of the conversation. If their beliefs are now on display, they’ll be more interested in the ultimate outcome and answer that is given.
Maybe they don’t engage you with a question initially, instead you engage them with questions from the beginning. People love it when you care about their response and speak directly to it. This is a method of evangelism that establishes a relationship based on deeper issues than who should be kicked off American Idol. The conversations you have in the future will reflect that.
Randy Newman wrote a book titled Questioning Evangelism and recently gave two messages found here that have helped me understand this method further and assisted me in many conversations. These messages are helpful, but you’ll learn more from personally trying to engage people with the gospel and it’s more fun too.