If you had the opportunity to ask God just one question about something that still doesn’t make sense to you, what would you ask him?
“This is the question that we are going to take to the streets,” said the facilitator. “We are going to leave this church building and everyone is going to find and interview one person in the central park.”
At first the participants of the course The Scandal of God*, seemed nervous and unsure about the idea of going out on the streets to talk to non-Christians, but after the interviews in the park, their attitudes were very different. They came back excited; smiling, and talking about the different questions they had heard:
- How can I get a divorce from my church-sanctioned marriage?
- Why did my mother abandon me, my father mistreat me, and why do my siblings not love me?
- Why would God send me to this world?
- When will I find the light that will guide me to Him?
- Why won’t God let me forget the person that I’m in love with?
- Why has God given so much power to Satan?
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participants were surprised at the questions and the discoveries that they made through them. They realized that society does have an enormous thirst for knowledge about human relations. More importantly, the people outside the church really do want to know God, and they will easily and frankly talk about spiritual subjects if they are asked the right question.
“Imagine the great door that would open for us if instead of going out to preach, we went out to question,” remarked another facilitator.
This exercise reminded me of the story of the “Road to Emmaus” in Luke 24 that clearly shows the method Jesus used to reach the heart of people. He first asked questions and listened attentively, and only then did he respectfully communicate the truth of the gospel.
Do we follow Jesus’s model when we share our faith, or do we do the exact opposite? What are the questions that those outside the church need us Christians to ask? Are we listening carefully to their doubts and concerns? What would happen in our communities if we went out to question instead of to preach? Who knows what we might discover if we only tried a new strategy.
He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
Luke 24:17 and 27 (NIV)
* The Scandal of God is a course in the curriculum series Mission for Transformation that the Nehemiah Center program for youth development teaches. Its goal is to equip the church to serve at-risk youth and their families.