Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People’s Hearts the Way Jesus Did. By Randy Newman. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2004, 2017. 267 pp. Paper, $18.99.
Randy Newman was for a time on college campus staff with Campus Crusade for Christ.
Newman’s purpose is not to explain what the saving message is. For the most part, he assumes that the readers already know the saving message. He focuses instead on asking good questions to get the listener engaged in a conversation, rather than a monologue, as often happens in evangelism.
The few times Newman alludes to what one must do to be saved, he brings in a mild Lordship Salvation message (pp. 37, 38, 157). For example, he writes, “Coming into a relationship with God involves a bowing of our wills to His sovereign lordship” (p. 157). But if a reader was not reading carefully, he could easily miss what Newman thinks a person must do or believe to be born again.
The book is divided into three parts. Part 1 deals with the importance of asking questions. This, in my estimation, is the heart of the book. Chapters 1-3 fall within this section (pp. 23-72). More on this section after I describe the other two.
Part 2, the largest section (pp. 75-205), deals with the questions which are often asked of us when we share our faith. While this section does sometimes use questions to answer questions, for the most part it is more straightforward answers to popular questions.
The third section (pp. 209-253) deals with some practical issues concerning our attitudes: do we care about the salvation of others? Are there some people we’d really like to see go to hell? And when is it time to shut up? Newman’s suggestion that the attitude that we should continue to engage a scoffer is unwise struck me as excellent advice. (He discussed this same idea earlier in the book on pages 45-47 as well.) Too often in books on evangelism such a caution is not given.
Here are some questions Newman suggests in the first section that I found very helpful:
- What makes you think that Jesus was a good teacher? Have you read a lot of His teachings? Which messages impress you the most about Jesus’s teaching ability? What would you say was Jesus’s main message? (p. 33).
- On what do you base your reality? (p. 43).
- Are you willing to read something that I think answers your question? (p. 47).
- Can you explain that to me? (pp. 61, 63).
- Isn’t it possible that the God who first inspired the Bible also preserved it? (p. 65).
- Isn’t it possible that Jesus did rise from the dead? (p. 66).
- Isn’t it possible that Jesus really is the one who fulfills all of those Old Testament prophecies? That He really is the Messiah? (p. 67).
- What convinces you of that? …What is the strongest case for that? (p. 72).
Coming from a Free Grace perspective, we might develop some questions of our own, such as:
- What do you think a person needs to do to spend eternity with Jesus in His kingdom?
- Can you think of any Bible verses that tell us what a person needs to do to have everlasting life?
- Do you think it is fair or unfair of God to simply give people who believe in His Son everlasting life, apart from the works they have done or will do? Why or why not?
- How do you understand John 3:16?
- Why do you think that Jesus chose to die on the cross?
- What book of the Bible do you think was written to tell people what they need to do in order to have everlasting life?
- Would you be willing to read a chapter of John’s Gospel each day if it would help you become sure you have everlasting life?
- What is the biggest objection to once saved, always saved?
- Is God within His rights to give a secure salvation, which can never be lost, even though some people may not live like they should after receiving it? Would that be fair on His part? Would that make sense?
Like Newman, I found that lecturing to people, especially when reading from a booklet, is not particularly effective. That is not what the Lord did when He spoke with individuals like Nicodemus or the woman at the well. He liked to ask questions and get into a back and forth with the person He was talking with.
Why not give questions a try? You might find that you like it.
I recommend this book.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society