For over 30 years, my friend Greg Koukl has taught Christians how to engage with people across worldview lines by asking questions. His first book Tactics has equipped thousands of Christians to communicate with wisdom and passion. This month, Koukl is releasing a follow-up to that book, entitled Street Smarts: Using Questions to Answer Christianity’s Toughest Challenges.
Among the goals of the book is to make evangelism a less intimidating and more successful endeavor:
There are few things that cause more nagging guilt for Christians than sharing their faith. They feel guilt because they don’t witness enough. They don’t witness enough because they’re scared. And they’re scared for good reason. Sharing the gospel and defending it—apologetics—often feels like navigating a minefield these days. For most of us, engaging others on spiritual matters does not come easy, especially when people are hostile.
Koukl helpfully distinguishes what he calls “harvesting,” and “gardening.” Because God brings the harvest, our goal is simply faithfulness to what is true about the world and about people. According to John’s Gospel, some Christians harvest and others sow, so “that sower and reaper may rejoice together.”
A singular focus only on “harvesting,” Koukl argues, leads to a number of problems. For example, the very important “gardeners” are encouraged to sit out the evangelism process, in favor of the “harvesters.” This is often the case when Christians fail to understand the power of the cultural forces shaping the worldview of non-believers, one reason our Gospel seeds seem to only bounce off “hard soil.” Christians, therefore, must also commit to “spadework,” or digging up the faulty preconceptions about life, God, and humanity that people hold, often unknowingly. One great way to do this “spadework” is by asking questions.
Ask questions. Lots of them. Your first step in any encounter should be to gather as much information as possible. It’s hard to know how to proceed—or even if to proceed—unless you first get the lay of the land. You need intel, and friendly queries get it for you.
When you need to buy some time to catch your wits, ask a question. When you face a challenge you’re not sure how to deal with, ask a question. When the conversation bogs down and you think it best to move in a new direction, ask a question. Whenever you’re in doubt about how to move forward, ask a question.
In Street Smarts, Koukl teaches the kinds of questions that are most effective while also providing sample conversations on the most common topics, which is another very important contribution of this book. In addition to answering the misconceptions about faith that people often have—from God’s existence to the divinity of Jesus—Street Smarts helps believers engage others on the moral and social issues at the center of our cultural discourse, such as abortion and gender and the many topics related to human sexuality. Koukl provides the questions, the talking points, and the examples that can open up significant conversations, invite skeptics in, and challenge presuppositions. In the process, Christians will develop confidence in what is true.
Our job is to jump in. The results are up to God.
You may be serving quietly, in the dark, often not knowing the true extent of your impact—going out in obedience, doing what is right, speaking what is true, laboring faithfully. The course of history is often changed by small things done by ordinary people at opportune times, even though they never realize it. We take what we have—our skills, our gifts, our capabilities, our opportunities—then place everything in the hands of the Savior. … A person may rebel at what you share, but if you’re thoughtful in what you say and gracious in how you say it, chances are good you’ll give him something to think about.
This month, for a gift of any amount to the Colson Center, we will send you a copy of Greg Koukl’s book Street Smarts. As Koukl writes, both knowledge and action “breed courage.” His book cultivates both. To receive a copy of Street Smarts: Using Questions to Answer Christianity’s Toughest Challenges, visit colsoncenter.org/September. As Koukl writes,
Now is not the time for fear of any kind. It’s not the time to circle the wagons or to pull up the drawbridge. It’s the time for ambassadors equipped with knowledge, tactical wisdom, and character to seize the moment as agents of change for the kingdom of heaven when the world needs them most. ￼
For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to breakpoint.org.
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