In our post-Christian age, evangelistic Christians (a redundant statement, if ever there was one) must learn to love their neighbors through means of proactive hospitality. A few years ago I wrote about the subject of evangelism and hospitality (here and here). Today, let me list 11 questions that might help facilitate conversation that goes beyond the weather and sports. Moving from the generic to the more evangelistic, these personal questions may help us to engage others with meaningful questions that move towards the most important subjects of life.
- Home. Tell me about your parents. What did your father do? Did your parents have a happy marriage? (If divorced) when did they get divorced? How did that affect you? Tell me about your siblings. What do they do? Where do they live? What are they like? What kind of relationship do you have with them?
- Work. Tell me about your work. How long have you worked at _______ ? Is this the place you want to retire from? Are you doing what you dreamed you would do? What would you do, if you could do anything?
- Children. What do you hope for your kids? If you could give them one thing what would it be? What fears do you have for them?
- Hobbies. What hobbies do you have? What do you do for fun? Where would you go on vacation if you were given $10,000?
- Personal Interests. If you could spend a day with one person, who would it be? Why? If you could live in any place where would it be?
- Music and Entertainment. What kind of music do you listen to? What books do you read? What television shows do you watch? What is your favorite movie? Why? If you could meet anyone famous person who would it be?
- Church and Religion. What has been your experience with church? What kind of church did you go to? If someone invited you to church, would you consider going?
- World Religions. Do you think that all religions are the same? Or does one stand out? Which religion do you respect the most/least? If you could meet one religious leader who would it be?
- Worldview. Where did humans come from? What went wrong with the world? What is the hope for the world? What are you doing to make the world a better place?
- The Bible. Have you ever read the Bible? What do you think the Bible is about? Do you have a Bible? If I gave you a Bible would you read it?
- The Gospel. What is the message of Jesus/the Bible/Christianity? If someone offered to help you understand the message of the Bible, would you want to know more?
These questions are just a sampling of what could be asked. Depending on the person and your relationship with them, these questions may take weeks or months to talk through. The goal is not to check them off, but to get to know the person. And in getting to know the person, you begin to see places where the gospel can make inroads into the heart of the person.
Too often, evangelistically-minded Christians have sought to make their presentation and call for a decision. However, such a salesman-like methods depersonalizes the gospel message. It makes the person a target instead of a uniquely-created image-bearer. By contrast, when we take the time to know someone, we learn what their passions, fears, and questions about God are. It prepares us to better answer their objections and press the gospel into the needs of their life.
Ultimately, our strategic efforts to share the gospel will not save anyone. Salvation is of the Lord. That said, we would be foolish if we did not think wisely about how to reach the lost. In sharing the gospel, it is imperative to show genuine interest and love for who the person is, just as Jesus genuinely loved the Rich Young Ruler. At the same time, as we get to others we are better prepared to navigate and undermine the defense mechanisms of every unbeliever. In truth, since the Spirit works by the ministry of the Word, we must learn how to best present that word. And there is no better context than in personal relationships that are built in the context of intentional, proactive hospitality.
May God give us many opportunities to share Christ with those whom we invite into our homes.
Soli Deo Gloria, ds