One of the best ways to engage with others is to ask questions.
“Be a good listener,”
“Ask questions the other person will enjoy answering.” Dale Carnegie - How to Win Friends and Influence People
Asking questions forces you to listen to answers. It also allows you to invest in someone as urged in the previous lesson - Engaging with others.
Why should I ask questions?
When we start stating our opinions or firming up our position, it puts our audience in a defensive position. They may start to formulate an answer to what you are saying, closing themselves off to your responses.
Asking questions on the other hand, tends to disarm people. It allows them to lay out their beliefs in a non-confrontational manner and shows them that you care not only about what they believe, but why.
It also has the added benefit of providing openings to ask more questions. Through asking questions you can lead someone to a conclusion instead of telling them how to get there.
Does asking questions make me a student or teacher?
A good teacher realizes they will always be a student. Just as you look to teach others about your faith, you should also look to learn from others what they believe. This will help you in future interactions with others who may have similar beliefs.
Hopefully the line of questioning rewards you with a deeper interaction with the person. In an ideal situation, they in turn will ask you questions which will deepen their understanding of your faith and how rooted it is in Christ.
Even if it doesn’t, don’t be dissuaded! You either succeed, or you learn. To succeed, you must learn.
When should I ask questions?
As soon as the opportunity presents itself. It can come as quick as after a greeting, or after an introduction. It may also come after a long discussion over another topic, such as politics or the weather.
One question that usually breaks the ice and turns the subject is “Do you go to church?” Answering ‘Yes’ does not necessarily mean that they believe in Christianity or that they are a Christian. In the same vein, answering ‘No’ doesn’t necessarily mean they are lost.
Their answers do clue you in to what your next few questions should be. The questions you ask following the ‘Yes’ answer could be “What do you believe about Jesus?” or “Do you believe in Heaven/Hell?” These can clue you in to whether they truly are followers of Christ.
The ‘No’ answer can elicit questions like “Have you ever been to church?” or “Is there any particular reason why?” Most people I have encountered are glad to share their negative reasons for not attending church.
Maintain your focus
Keeping your focus will help you guide the person to the discussion you want, which should be the topic of their salvation. Of course, jumping right into that conversation can put people off and keep you from ever getting past their rejection.
Remember that if you are rejected, it isn’t you they are rejecting, but Jesus. Just because they reject Him today, doesn’t mean they will always reject Him. Just a crop has to be cultivated after it is planted, so people sometimes must be tended by many before taking root and growing in faith.
You should also be growing as well. Discipleship starts with putting prayer and lessons learned through reading scripture into practice. Asking questions when engaging with others starts you on a path to discipleship by spreading the gospel as Jesus has commanded us all to do.
Do you find it easier to talk to people when you ask questions? Leave a comment below and let me know!