The main idea of Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People’s Hearts the Way Jesus Did is that responding to questions from skeptics with questions is more affect than responding with answers. Newman splits the book up into three parts. Part One tells the reader why asking questions is so effective. Part Two gives examples of some of the frequent questions skeptics are asking today, as well as some ideas for how to respond to those questions. Part Three covers some of the questions, we as evangelists ought to be asking ourselves.
The best quote of the book is “Any phrase that leaves them wondering what else we’re thinking, rather than wishing that we’d just shut up, is worth a try. It could get them to listen to us – which is what we were hoping for when we started listening to them.” (pg. 253) I chose this quote because I thought it summarized the main point of the book well. I have also come to know from experience, that what Newman is saying here is very useful. I know this from both a secular and evangelist view. In a secular way, I found this point helpful when trying to aid people with their finances, and when trying to get a message across to anyone (in general) who may think differently than I do. In an evangelistic way, I have found this to be very helpful in my own experience with skeptics, and even believers who need more spiritual food.
A new discovery I learned from this book was something Newman said about marriage. He stated
“Marriage makes us better because it shows us how bad we are. Lifelong, unconditional commitment makes us more giving because it exposes how selfish we are. Loving someone who doesn’t deserve love makes us more like the God who loved us ‘while we were still sinners’ (Rom. 5:8). Unlike any other tool, then, marriage drives home the two-pronged message of the gospel: that we are ‘more wicked and sinful than we ever dared believe but, in Christ, we are more accepted and loved than we ever dared hope.’” (pg. 184)
For starters, I am not married; which makes me an outsider looking in (or forward). But I found this to be very insightful and believe it to be true, based on my experience in my own committed relationship. Reading it again, even now, hits deep and strikes me as extremely profound. I find it amazing how both honorable and challenging marriage can be, and yet so useful and gospel driven.
A personal application I learned form the book is not something new, but more of a confirmation and reinforcement. I learned the hard way, being a financial planner at Fidelity Investments, it was not effective to communicate how much I knew about financial planning (although it was right, and I was trying to help them), unless I spent the time asking them questions, listening to their story, hearing their point of view, and trying to put myself in their shoes and empathize with them and validate their thoughts and feelings. Only then, was I able to give them my message and guidance. What I have found confirming and reinforcing from this book is it works the exact same way when communicating the gospel message. It is more effective to ask questions, listen, empathize, and validate first. Then, if they feel comfortable enough, we can share our message.