What Are They Really Asking?
Learn to understand what people are really wondering about Christianity
My ministry has brought me into contact with thousands of curious, questioning people. I’ve discovered that people ask spiritual questions because something in their lives isn’t working. Uncertainty, fear, and pain provoke their questions. What they really want isn’t information, but relief.
Most seekers’ questions, whether intellectual or emotional, indicate underlying issues. Choosing to believe in Christ carries major internal ramifications. Snappy, pat answers don’t satisfy these inner struggles. Nobody wants a two-cent answer to a million-dollar question.
Behind every question is a person asking that question, and we need to minister to that person
What Do You Think?
A great irony in Scripture prompted me to rethink how I answer seekers’ questions. When the Son of God walked the earth, people came to him with dilemmas, doubts, and questions. He had all answers available to him. And yet he met their questions with questions of his own.
• Luke 10:25–26: “An expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’”
Jesus didn’t give the answer. Instead, he asked a question in return. “‘What is written in the Law?’ he replied. ‘How do you read it?’”
• Matthew 18:12: Jesus asked, “What do you think? If a man owns 100 sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the 99 on the hills and go look for the one that wandered off?”
The heart of the parable is nothing but two questions!
• Matthew 22:41–46: “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?”
Jesus conducted a little Bible study on Psalm 110 with the Pharisees. Through this conversation Jesus affirmed that the Christ would be more than an earthly son of David, but also the Son of God. Jesus’ answer was to recite one verse and ask four questions. He responded not to the question, but to the person behind the question.
What To Ask
I’ve found several specific questions effective at reaching the underlying issues. Now, when someone asks me a spiritual question, I almost always reply, “That’s an interesting question. What do you think?”
This is the approach Jesus used when he asked, “What’s written in the Law? How do you read it?” It gives me an opportunity to understand the person. It also affirms that I care for him or her, even more than I do about having the “right” answer.
Often, exhibiting care for the questioner is a greater ministry than answering the question.
Another good question: “What situation in your life makes you wonder about that?”
Sometimes, however, a seeker’s questions and thoughts do require challenge. For instance, many seekers struggle with Jesus’ claim to be the way, the truth, and the life. “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Many times what keeps people from faith is fear of the consequences. Many of my college friends were living with their girlfriends. They knew if they accepted Christianity, they’d have to stop. So they put up diversions. As long as they could keep God looking silly and Jesus looking less than divine they could continue their unexamined lives. Their doubts had little to do with theology and everything to do with morality.
Once the objection is uncovered, it can be addressed with compassion and truth. “In Hebrews 11,” I might say to one who fears what God will demand, “it says they who seek God must believe that he is a rewarder. He rewards, not tramples, those that serve him. His character is not to make you miserable, but to bless you.” —JUDSON POLING
1. What questions have you asked unbelievers in the past, and what were the results?
2. Why is it important that evangelism involve an exchange, not just a one-sided conversation?
3. Describe a time when you worked at uncovering a person’s objections to Christianity. What happened?
The above article, “What Are They Really Asking?” was written by Judson Poling. The article was excerpted from www.christianitytoday.com Christian Bible Studies
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”