Wouldn’t it be great if you knew how to ask questions in a way that was extremely effective whenever you shared the gospel? Being able to do this would mean that your conversation and communication would dramatically improve. In fact, I am certain that questioning in the right way can really open doors for us to share the good news more successfully.
I heard it said recently that Jesus was the great questioner. I believe that is true because you only have to look through the scriptures to see that Jesus asked people many questions as He conversed. He knew exactly what He was doing, completely understanding how to ask questions in a way that would elicit the answer he was looking for. He had the uncanny ability to do this to get to the truth within people’s hearts. He is the best example for us to follow, and as I’ve said many times before, He is without a doubt the best model of an evangelist that we could wish for.
I could have used many examples of questions from the gospels. I have chosen the direct questioning Jesus used with Nicodemus in John chapter three. This is the well-known passage where Jesus explained about the necessity of being born again. We know that Nicodemus struggled to understand this, which caused Jesus to ask the question, “‘You are Israel’s teacher,’ said Jesus, ‘and do you not understand these things”? John 3: 10
I love this question because it exposed the truth. Jesus was basically saying, “If you really knew who is really standing before you talking, you would know what I am saying is the truth.
Key point: The truth of the matter is that most people who come to Christ on a one to one basis, do so through conversation and questioning.
One thing is certain, when we get down to witnessing with the aim of having meaningful conversations, we will have to ask questions. There is simply no way to get around it. The truth of the matter is that most people who come to Christ on a one to one basis, do so through conversation and questioning.
I have taught communication-based subjects for a number of years. Here are three examples of questioning that yield results.
Open versus closed questions: Closed questions typically invite a short answer, or very often a yes or no reply. Whereas, open questions invite a longer response because they require more thought than a simple one-word answer.
As well as this, using this type of questioning gets the person you are in conversation with to think about their answers and consider how they will reply. This enables us to uncover exactly what a person thinks or believes.
Closed question – “Do you believe in God”? Answer “No”.
Open-ended question – “What do you think happens to people when they die”?
This question could receive a short answer, but in most cases, in the process of a genuine conversation, you will receive a longer response which could lead to a lengthier interaction.
Probing questions: These are questions that enable you to get nearer to the truth. They get below the surface and when used effectively they help you to understand more about your hearer’s knowledge and beliefs. The important point to remember here is that you should not pump people for information like an interrogation, as this will put them under pressure and drive them away. Plan to ask these types of questions carefully and strategically.
When you receive answers, make sure that you demonstrate that you are listening intently to what they’re saying. This shows you are interested and that you value the person you are in conversation with. “We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Epictetus
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” James 1:19-20
You can even use questions that repeat the person’s previous answer. This further demonstrates that you been listening attentively, which importantly develops trust to a greater level.
Probing question examples –“I think that it is really interesting that you say that you believe there is no heaven. Could you tell me why you believe that”?
“Could you tell me what has happened in your life to make you believe something like that”?
Socratic questioning: This is a technique named after the Greek philosopher Socrates. It is widely used in teaching circles to help students learn involving the use of follow-up questions (Sometimes known as three or five level questioning) to gain understanding. This again revolves around understanding a person’s beliefs and knowledge. It also works very well in one to one discussions and is great for gospel sharing.
If you are not careful here, it is very easy to get into a grilling and interrogation mode again. Avoid this by good listening as well as giving feedback before moving on to another question.
Socratic questions example – Why are you saying that? -What do you mean by that? – Can you give me an example? – Can you rephrase that please?
When you have talked about your faith, what kind of questions have you been asking? It’s worth considering and looking back over previous conversations to ask yourself whether the outcomes were positive or negative.