Friday, June 13, 2008

How to Talk to People About Important Things

It is one thing to talk to people about, well, nothing. . . to make small talk. It is another thing all together to talk about important things. How do you go about finding out what other people really think? How do you go about surfacing opportunities where the Good News might not only be heard, but be appreciated?

Again, there may be countless ways, but I am going to share only the easiest: QUESTIONS! That's right, questions. Simply ask more questions. Follow up the questions you ask when getting to know them (see yesterday) with better questions. These questions fall into three basic categories:

  • Permission Questions: If you are going beyond finding where someone is F.R.O.M. you will want to tread lightly. You can tread lightly by simply asking permission to go farther. "Do you mind if I ask you what you like about that?" or "Would it be alright if I told you what that has meant to me?" or "If you don't mind my asking, why do you believe that?" Permission questions simply make you a polite and respectful sharer of good news.
  • Poisonous Questions: Poisonous questions are not designed to create a crisis immediately. They are not designed to be confrontive. A poisonous question is one which lodges in someone's mind and give them reason to consider eternal and important things. It might be something like, "Yes, but is that really what you want out of life?" or "Don't you have to sell your soul for that kind of job? Will it really make you happy?" or "Is your hope that you won't have to give an account to God really worth the risk?" Poisonous questions don't preach, but as they say in Montana, they simply 'salt the oats.'
  • Progress Questions: A progress question comes when someone raises a serious question about your faith. Say, they can't go farther in your discussion because they believe in Evolution, or can't swallow the fact that 'a loving God would send people to hell.' You can stop all together, go home and cry, or you can ask a progress question. There are only a few varieties of this. You can ask, "What is it about this that makes you hesitate?" That will lead you to more substantial things to talk about. Or you can ask, "If I could provide an answer or solution to your problem that satisfied you, would you be willing to follow Christ?" This will tell whether it is a legitimate objection or one unconsciously designed to through you off track. If you need to find an answer you don't know, admit you don't know and make a plan to get back, but ask one more question first, "What would you consider an adequate solution?" This will help you know how to approach the solution.
These three types of questions are some of the best ways to not be preachy, but not be a coward about your faith either. Have fun!

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