Many of us are good at chatting, but have little idea of how we can move the conversation on to the point where we can share our faith with the other person.
Rebecca Manley Pippert suggests that good questioning skills are key to this. She outlines four stages in moving a conversation on to deeper and perhaps spiritual – issues.
General interest questions
What do you do? Do you have a family? Where are you from?
Specific interest questions
These might explore any of the above: What? Who? Why? How?
These might be about their area of interest, inviting them to reflect on what they believe.
These might seem hard, but issue questions can lead quite naturally to God questions.
Consider some examples:-
1. General: What made you go into medicine?
2. Specific: what’s your area? Why did you choose it? What are the challenges?
3. Issue: How do you give hope to patients who are terminal?
4. God: what hope would it give if we knew that God is real and there’s a life beyond this one?
An art student
1. General: What are you studying at university?
2. Specific: why did you choose Art? What is your art form? Why do you love that expression of art so much?
3. Issue: Since you will make a living at creating beauty, what draws you to beauty? What do you think is the source of beauty?
4. God: Do you think there might be a Master Artist behind what we see? Could there be a Creator god who is the source of all beauty and who gave us with the ability to recognize and enjoy beauty?
A fitness fanatic
1. General: You are obviously very fit! What kind of workouts do you do? How often?
2. Specific: Was there ever a time when you couldn’t work out due to injury? How’d that make you feel about yourself?
3. Issue: Have you ever found a way of acceptance that isn’t based on your performance?
4. God: As we age and our body begins to fall apart, what difference would it make to know there is a God whose love for us is not based on our performance?
Used mechanically, then these lines of questioning can seem stilted, or worse. But skilled communication doesn’t have to be insincere, and skilled evangelism is not necessarily manipulative. If we are genuinely interested in the other person, then we will want to make the most of the opportunities given to us in order to reach the point where was can share what is most important to us. Which, of course, is precisely what Jesus did.