Is There Such a Thing as a Wrong Question in Evangelism?
I recently had an interesting experience that led me to wonder about whether it’s possible to ask a wrong question in an evangelistic context. I left with conflicting thoughts and emotions. Have you ever had experiences like that? Here’s what happened.
Context: Engage U Event
Our Engage 360 team recently went to the campus of a large university (App State in North Carolina) to lead a 3-day evangelism outreach to students. (See here to learn more about Engage U.) We partnered with Christians from the area, as well as a number of students involved in some of the campus ministries at that university.
In those 3 days we spoke with hundreds of students from all over the country and from all thought perspectives. Most of the students we talked with seemed interested in knowing why we were there and what we had to say. There were of course some who were just indifferent and wanted nothing to do with us. But I was actually impressed with the number of students who willingly stopped to engage with us, leading to some amazing conversations and opportunities to share the Gospel.
Lots of Questions
The common theme of those interactions was questions – lots of questions. Some of those students asked questions I had never even thought about, let alone asked someone else. And the realization I had during this time was this: most of these students were genuinely seeking answers to their questions! They were in an environment where they were being challenged to question everything and to keep their minds open.
But interestingly, even though they were curious about what answers they could find, they were not necessarily interested in knowing the truth. Why would I say that? Because they are being taught that truth is relative. It’s what you want it to be. There is no such thing as ultimate truth, so personal truth is just that – it’s your truth, and I have my truth, and we should be content (I believe the word today is ‘tolerant’) with that. As a result we were able to have some very involved and interesting discussions with students.
“That’s a Wrong Question”
But what really troubled me as I walked away from that experience was the number of students who described themselves as having grown up in a ‘Christian’ or ‘religious’ home and who had walked away from the things they were taught.
And sadly for most of the students we talked with, it was because when they gave voice to questions they had about life and faith, they were met with a generic “just believe” or “you need to have faith to understand.” Very few parents and leaders gave an honest attempt to address the questions they had. And so these students drew the conclusion since no answers were given, it must not be important, or it must not be true. Even more tragically, several students told me that they were shamed and humiliated for even voicing a question.
Is it any wonder then, why so many young people today are walking away from the values and truths they have been exposed to growing up. Shouldn’t it be clear why they so quickly become agnostic or at best uninterested in what the Bible has to say about life, or faith, or truth?
Can You Answer the “Wrong Questions”?
Some reading this may respond, “Well, that’s not me. I always try to answer the questions I’ve been asked about faith.” If so, that’s great! But for argument’s sake, what if I was to ask you a few of the ‘simple’ questions we are asked on a regular basis, such as:
- How can I believe the Bible is true? Isn’t it just an old book of stories written by a bunch of different people over a long period of time in different languages and places?
- How do you know God is real? And why is your God any different from the other gods of other religions?
- Why do make such a big deal about Jesus? Sure, He was a good man and a wise teacher, but why should I believe He was any more than that? He died just like every other man, and the stories about him rising from the dead aren’t true.
How would you answer those questions? Should I continue? Because those are just the openers! What about the question of evil, universal sin, creation vs evolution, the authenticity and reliability of scripture, and the questions goes on and on.
There Are No Wrong Questions
Here’s the point I’m trying to make: to be totally honest, most of us probably grew up with questions we either didn’t ask or decided they weren’t important enough to risk asking. Because our questions were not answered, the easy thing is to ignore the questions of others, especially those close to us. And for those bold enough to ask questions, we tend to put them off until they tire of asking. Why? Because either we don’t know the answers to their questions, or we haven’t taken the time to find answers to our own questions.
Let me challenge you – starting today, make a commitment with yourself to not let any question go unanswered.
Start with questions you yourself may still have, and then move on to the questions of others.
If you are a parent or a grandparent, PLEASE take the initiative to invite, even encourage your children and grandchildren to ask questions – any questions. Questions provide the opportunity to present answers and truth. Help them find answers to the things they wrestle with while they are in a ‘safe’ place with people who truly care about them. Teach them to think critically, and to know what they believe and why they believe. In other words, teach them how to effectively articulate and defend their faith, because I assure you that if they cannot, they will likely be added to the group I mentioned earlier.
Remember – there is no such thing as a wrong question. And be encouraged because God’s Word has the answers we all long for! So don’t leave any question unanswered. There are abundant resources available to help you answer any questions you have or that you might be asked. If you need help finding answers or resources, please reach out us; we would welcome the opportunity to assist you.