Has anyone ever asked you:
“Why are all Christians homophobic?”
“Why should I worship a God who allows children to starve?”
“If Jesus is so great, why are so many of His followers jerks?”
Tough questions, to be sure. And making matters worse is the questioner’s tone, implying that he or she is not really looking for an answer.
So how should we reply?
That’s a topic Randy Newman addresses in his book, Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People’s Hearts the Way Jesus Did.
Newman, who has served in ministry on college campuses, at the Pentagon, in churches, and in various academic settings, writes that a diverse audience requires diverse approaches. “If Jesus teaches us anything about evangelism, it’s that He used a variety of methods with a variety of people,” he notes.
Newman says any evangelistic approach requires three skills: (1) declaring the gospel; (2) defending the gospel (Christian apologetics); and (3) dialoguing the gospel. That third skill is the focus of his book.
“Often neglected, difficult to master, but absolutely essential, this skill of giving and taking – asking questions and bouncing ideas back and forth – might be just what our postmodern audience needs,” he writes. “We need all three skills if we’re to be Christ’s ambassadors in the twenty-first century.”
Reading the Gospels, we see that Jesus often responds to questions with a question of His own. His goal is to get beneath the question to the heart of the matter – whether strict legalism, as in the case of the Jewish religious leaders who chide Jesus for healing on the Sabbath, or a faulty view of Christ’s divinity, as in the case of the rich young ruler.