Randy Newman’s book Questioning Evangelism is about how to use questions in order to lead to gospel conversations. The book is primarily filled with stories and examples of conversations that Newman has had while doing evangelism in his life and ministry.
It is divided into three major parts.
Part one, “Why Ask Questions?,” provides the rational for the rest of the book. Newman makes his case for why we should use this approach in our conversations with lost people. He explains that this is what Jesus and Paul often did and he explained the wisdom in taking this approach.
Part two, “What Questions Are People Asking?,” is the biggest section of the three. Here Newman takes common questions that he faces from non-Christians and helps readers think about how they should approach those topics. The topics he includes are: the exclusivity of Christ, the problem of evil and suffering, the authority and authenticity of the Scriptures, homosexuality, marriage, and hypocrisy. With each of these issues he gives sample conversations and draws lessons from them to teach us how to approach these difficult questions.
The last part of the book, “Why Aren’t Questions and Answers Enough?,” is about how we should not forget to love and listen to the lost we are trying to reach. He explains when it is good to just stop and listen to the person you are talking. Newman believes that often times our actions are doing much of the preaching and we are losing the lost we are trying to reach because we are not showing love and compassion toward them.
This book was good. It was not great and I probably do not plan on recommending it to too many people simply because I think there are better books on evangelism. Some of the strengths of this book include:
(1) the main point of the book is really a good point. I do believe that much of what Newman is advocating is true not only in Scripture but also in my own personal experience. I have seen questions disarm those I am talking to and help me then share the gospel with them.
(2) The book is very easy to read and the conversational style is helpful for readers to even practice in their minds how to have these conversations. Simply reading the book is a great practice exercise for evangelism.
(3) The third part has some great points in it about how we need to be careful that we are not thinking about people like they are some trophy to be won. I liked the way Newman encouraged us to be better listeners and I think there are probably many Christians that need to hear that message.
Unfortunately, there were more weaknesses in this book then there were strengths. Three of the weaknesses that I will point out are:
(1) the gospel message was assumed throughout much of the book and Newman very rarely took his conversations to the gospel. He typically recounted a conversation and once it got time to share the gospel with the person he stopped the conversation. I think it would have been good to read over and over again how he turned those questions into gospel conversations and read what he actually told them as he presented the gospel.
(2) In sum, I do not think this book is much about evangelism as it is about pre-evangelism. Much of the focus was about how to use questions to take a conversation to the gospel. This made the title and the book a bit misleading. I think it would have been better for him to be clearer that questions are not enough because at some point we need just tell them about the redemption of Christ. Many people do not trust in Christ because they have never heard the gospel and they are not going to hear unless we tell the. Asking questions will not actually share the gospel message the majority of the time.
(3) I was too often not satisfied with some of the answers he gave in the conversations that he presented as examples. Some were very good, but too many of them I thought were not that great. For example, I think he punted too quickly with the problem of evil. I am not claiming to have the answers to all those questions, but he really did not give an answer at all and Romans 9 would have been a much better place to address to problem of evil than the book of Job. I think Job is extremely helpful at making the points Newman made, but it does not give us any answers to why God has ordained suffering exist in this world.