6 Questions to Ask Before You Share the Gospel.

A few weeks ago, I did a youth retreat on Jesus’ questions, following Dick Keyes’ great material on the subject. I outlined 6 types of questions we need to ask before we present the gospel. As an experiment, I had the group share the gospel with “Pagan Nick” at the beginning of the retreat. At the end, I had them use this outline to share the gospel with “Pagan Nick”, and we all sensed that the tone of the room was stunningly different.

Here they are, for your use:

Level 1. Getting to know you: “Who are you?” Questions 

  • What’s your story?
  • What are you into?
  • What do you want in life? 

Level 2. Values/Beliefs: “What do you believe?” Questions. 

  • Have you ever thought about where life comes from?
  • Have you ever wondered what’s wrong with the world?
  • Have you ever thought about your purpose in life?
  • Have you ever thought about life after death?
  • What do you think about Jesus? 

Level 3. Definitions: “What do you mean?” Questions.

  • So, you’re saying…
  • What do you mean by that?
  • What does _____ mean to you (being a good person, spirituality, etc)? 

Level 4. Loosening: “Why?” Questions:

  • How do you know that?
  • What leads you to that conclusion?
  • Can you cite specific examples? 

Level 5: Permission: “May I?” Questions:

  • Could I share what Christians believe about these things?
  • Would you say you understand the gospel? Would you like to?

Level 6: Response: “What will you do with this?” Questions:

  • Now that you’ve heard a presentation of the gospel, where do you see yourself in relationship to Jesus?
  • Would you be willing to do a Bible study with me, keeping an open mind about these things?

We found that the weakest zones for students at the outset were the “Getting to know you” and “Definitions” zones. When Christians oversimplify others’ beliefs, we tend to launch into complex apologetics that don’t answer real questions or life stories.

We also found that at the beginning, students spent too long defending their own beliefs rather than taking gentle control of the situation and asking pointed questions of others. Finally, most students launched into a gospel presentation without permission. It’s important that we hit each of these zones thoroughly – if someone isn’t interested in what we have to say, I’d say there’s a 90% likelihood we’ve skipped a zone.

What zone do you tend to skip?

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Nicholas McDonald is a blogger, pastor, and author of the book "Faker: How to Be Real When You're Tempted to Fake it." He studied creative writing and communication at Oxford University and Olivet Nazerene University, and received his M.Div from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. He currently resides in Lexington, NC, with his wife and two boys, Caleb and Owen.