Ask questions!

1 Peter 3:15 tells believers that they should always be ready to give an answer for the hope they have. What if no one asks you anything? Well, you ask the questions!

Here are some tips on why and how to do that:

Becky Pippert advises us to create curiosity before proclaiming the gospel:

Randy Newman, in his Questioning Evangelism1 talk, gives the following reasons for asking people questions:

  • Some people aren’t even awake. There’s not a lot of deep thought going on in our culture. In asking the questions, not only are you forcing them to think, but you also show that you’re a thinking person.
  • Some people believe things cannot be true, things that are contradictory or don’t stand up to investigation. For example, “All religions are saying the same thing.” Ask them to explain that to you. Gently put them on the defensive in order to lead them to understand that what they’ve been holding on to is indefensible. Be gracious and prayerful to avoid the temptation to want to win.
  • Some questions are insincere. We need to discern what’s going on with the questioner. If the question is insincere, we need to engage with the person on a level different from answering the question.
  • Sometimes a partial victory is best. It may be better to move people part of the way to a decision than moving them the whole way.

Michael Ramsden offers these reasons² for questioning people:

  • It forces people to open up within their general assumptions, e.g. in Luke 18:18-19.
  • It forces people to open up within their cultural assumptions, e.g. in Matthew 22:15-21.
  • It exposes faulty logic
  • It makes people think
  • It exposes motives, e.g. in Luke 20:2-8

Regarding that last point, giving the right answer to the wrong question is always wrong. In the apologetics workshop talk Tough questions: tough answers?, Ramsden gives guidelines on how to determine the question behind the question and how best to respond.

Not convinced? Have you considered how many questions Jesus asked?

For more ideas on how to engage uninterested unbelievers, have a listen to the Christian Persuaders podcast (tagline: “A series of interviews with people from around the world gifted and passionate about communicating and defending the Christian gospel”)  and/or Dan Strange’s talk  Reaching the Irreligious for Christ.

¹ I’ve listened to 4 versions of this talk, given in October 2009, October 2010, April 2011 and May 2011. Pick one. I’d go for the first or last 🙂

² I didn’t note down which talk this came from. Ooops.

In case you’re wondering, I have applied the advice in this post, though I fear I came across as an ignoramus. I can put that down to my lack of practice 🙂