Do you long to share the gospel with people but wonder, where do I start? How should I go about this? Should I just go up to strangers and say, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” Or should I approach the person and say, “Jesus loves you, and died on the cross for you.”

God can bless an opening line like that. But starting out a conversation with a stranger with one of those line seems pretty awkward, don’t you think? Is there a way to share the gospel with a person in a more natural, conversational way?

I think so.

I’ve discovered over the years that the favorite subject of conversation for most people is themselves. With the exception of strong introverts, most people love to talk about themselves, their hobbies, their interests, their job, their family, their history, their dreams, etc.

That being the case, I think one of the best ways to get to the gospel in a natural way is to start out . . .


Questions are good for a few reasons . . .

1. People have opinions on almost every subject, and most people love to share them.

When I was a college pastor, we took the college students out witnessing once a month or so. We would just go up to people on the street and start sharing with them. And we had some success. We definitely had the opportunity to pray with people to receive the Lord. But our typical opening line would go something like this:

“Hi, my name is ______, and this is my friend _______, and we’re with __________ church and we’re telling people about Jesus. Do you mind if we talk to you for a few minutes?”

Most people (I’d say about 85%) would say say, “No thanks.”

After a couple of years doing it this way, we decided to try a different approach. We decided to do on-the-street surveys. And everything changed! We started approaching people and asking if they’d like to take part in a survey we were conducting, and about 90% of the people said, “Sure!” “Yes!” “Absolutely.”

In that survey we asked the person a series of questions related to current events (Do you think marijuana should be legalized? Do you think the legal age for drinking should be lowered to age 18? etc.). And then we ended the survey with two spiritual questions:

•  If you could ask God one question what would you ask Him? (The most common question people wanted to ask God: Why do You allow evil and suffering?)
•  If God was to ask you why He should allow you into Heaven what would you say?

Then we would go on to share the gospel with them after the survey was over.

As I said, about 85-90% of the people who we walked up to on the street wanted to take part in the survey. Why? People have opinions on almost every subject, and they love to share them.

A second reason why questions are good:

2. Questions are non threatening.

It’s hard for an unbeliever to feel threatened when he or she is the one doing most of the talking.

3. Questions help lower a person’s defenses.

If you start out telling a person what to believe, many people will become defensive of their own views.

4. Questions allow you to control the direction of the conversation without putting your friend on the defensive.

5. Questions help to communicate humility.

6. Questions lead to questions in return.

Most mature listeners, after being asked several questions about themselves or their views, sense that it’s only fair to ask a question or two in return.

Questions like, “What about you?” or “What do you think?”

7. Questions can help a person to discover truth for themselves.

Now, I haven’t done a survey in a long time. I sort of abandoned that approach for a couple of reasons:

•  It looks a little odd approaching a person carrying a clipboard and pen (it looks a little too official for me).

•  When I didn’t have a clipboard and pen on me (which was often) I sort of assumed I was unable to witness.

So here’s what I did. I held on to the idea behind the surveys (the fact that people like to talk about themselves and even spiritual issues if you ask for their opinion and have a conversation rather than share a monologue) and decided to just start asking people the kinds of questions that used to be on the clipboard.

This approach works like the surveys, but you can do it anywhere and you don’t have to look like a scientist walking around with a clipboard and pen.

Apologetics Quotes



Let’s look at a list of some sample questions I came across that you can ask to help steer a conversation toward the gospel.

I found a lot of these in a fantastic book by Tim Downs called, Finding Common Ground. He suggests four categories of questions that I thought might be helpful to you:

A. Questions about the Listener’s Background

These are some questions that you might just ask a person about their history. These aren’t any particular of order.

~ What was it like around your house growing up?
~ What things were important to your parents?
~ Did you get in trouble a lot growing up?
~ What did you get from your family that you want to pass on to your kids?
~ How do you want to do things differently in your family?

Keep in mind that you’d only ask a couple of these. This isn’t a list to go through with a person.

~ What are your brothers and sisters like? How are you alike/different?
~ Did you grow up going to church? Did you enjoy it? (Of, if the person didn’t grow up going to church ask: Do you wish you had?)
~ Do you think you’ll have your kids go to church someday?

B. Questions Asking for the Listener’s Opinion or Advice

Many people will be shocked that anybody cares about their opinion and actually wants to hear it.

~ I see you’ve got cable. What do you let your kids watch?
~ What do you think of all the junk that’s on the internet?
~ Did you see What Dreams May Come? Incredible effects! What did you think of the way they pictured Heaven?
~ How do you celebrate Christmas at your house?
~ What do you think about the cloning issue?
~ Dr. Kevorkian is in the news again. What do you think of him?

There are endless topics and current events that an ambassador can bring up to lead into a meaningful conversation.

C. Questions that Involve the Listener’s Imagination

These questions call on the listener to put himself in a certain situation and imagine what they’d do. This kind of  “role-playing” can allow you to talk beyond the monotony of day-to-day concerns.

~ Did you hear about Mary’s diagnosis? What would you do if you found out you had cancer?
~ If you had plenty of money and could do anything you want for a living, what would you do?
~ What would you do if you found out your parents were planning to get a divorce?

D. Questions that Ask for the Listener’s Emotions

~ How do you feel about all these hate crimes? [or the war, the abduction of that 11 year old girl in Florida, etc.]
~ I have a friend whose husband has just been told he has three months to live. How would you feel if that were you?
~ What do you think about the cloning issue?
~ How would you feel if one of your kids really began to rebel?
~ How would you feel if your house burned down and you lost everything?

So we ask a question or two (or maybe a few) like those above, and then we listen closely to the person’s response. 

What do you do next? The goal is to steer the conversation to the gospel, right? So, in the midst of the conversation, we insert a question that very naturally shifts the conversation from the natural to the spiritual.

What question or questions do I propose? Here they are. And these questions are from a book I highly recommend by William Fay called, Share Jesus Without Fear.

Jot these down on a piece of paper (You’re going to want to memorize these five questions!)

1. Do you have any spiritual beliefs?

This is a fairly easy, non-offensive way to move from the natural into the spiritual arena. I have asked a lot of people this question and I am yet to meet a person who has been offended by the question. Not once have I ever had anybody say, “How dare you ask me that!” or “My beliefs are none of your business!”

Never! Why? You’re not forcing any of your beliefs upon them. You’re just asking them a friendly question about themselves. You’re showing interest in them.

After you ask this question, just sit back and listen to what they have to say.

Now, the person might say something as short as, “Yes, I do.” Or he might tell you about his beliefs for 20 minutes. Their beliefs may include some crazy things about goddesses, angels, gurus, spirit guides, Buddha, etc. He may even say “Absolutely not, I’m an atheist.”

Regardless of HOW long he goes, or WHAT he says, you just say, “Hmm.”

That’s pretty easy, isn’t it?

Perhaps you’re wondering as you read this article, “Well what do you mean Charlie? Shouldn’t I jump in there and correct him, or tell him what’s wrong about his view?”

I wouldn’t.

Why? It’s too easy to get entangled or caught up in a debate about some peripheral issue (e.g., aliens, UFOs) that will prevent you from getting to the gospel.

So, there you are. You’ve asked a person an ice breaker question or two about themselves. They answer. Then you ask, “Do you have any spiritual beliefs?” Let them go through their response.

When they are done answering that question, ask them another question . . .

2. Who is Jesus Christ to you?

And then let them answer. They might say:

•  “Jesus is the Son of God” or
•  “He’s a man who died on the cross” or
•  “He’s God’s only begotten Son.”

Those are correct theological statements aren’t they?

Should we assume that the person is saved? I wouldn’t. Notice how impersonal those answers are. If I were to ask you that very same question you’d probably say something like,

–“He’s my Lord and my Savior.”

That answer helps demonstrate to me that you have a genuine relationship Jesus, not just a religious knowledge of Him. There is a chance that somebody who says, “Jesus is the Son of God,” or “A man who died on the cross” is not saved. They may just have some religious background or upbringing. Jesus said that there will be many who refer to Jesus as “Lord” in this life to whom Jesus will say on the day of judgment, “I never knew you” in Matthew 7:23.

So tune in to the person’s answer. It may help you diagnose where a person is at spiritually. Unless you are absolutely convinced that the person is born again, your response should be:


Student: “But what if they say, that they think Jesus never existed?”


Student: “What if they say, that Jesus was only a good teacher and philosopher?”


We’re just taking their temperature.

We’re trying to find out what’s happening in their heart. The goal here is not to correct them. After you say “Hmmm,” you lovingly ask them a third question.

Archaeological Evidence for the Bible book

3. Do you believe in Heaven or Hell?

What’s your response? “Hmm.”

Student: “What if they say, ‘Absolutely not!’?”


Student: What if they say, “God would never send people to a place like Hell.”


Just let them share with you. What are we doing? We’re taking their temperature. We’re not debating. We’re not arguing. We’re allowing them to share their beliefs.

Then you ask them the fourth question:
4. If you were to die, where would you go?”

And again, you just sit back and listen.

Student: “What if they just told you they don’t believe in Hell, do I still ask them this question?”

Definitely. You’ll be surprised that even those who say they don’t believe in Heaven or Hell, will still tell you that they will go to Heaven when they die!

Amazing huh?

(Now, if they tell you that they would go to Hell, I would simply ask them, “Would you rather go to Heaven?” If they say “Yes” you will go on to share with them the verses that we are going to talk about in next week’s class [not available on ABR website, sorry]. If they say “No,” do nothing. Just look at them in astonishment.)

If, and when they say they would go to Heaven, and most people will, follow up with part two to this question:

(pt. 2) “Why would God let you in?”

And let them answer.

Most people will typically say that they are basically a good person, they go to church, they were baptized as a child, etc.

And then what do we say?


After you say “Hmm,” ask one final question . . .

5. If what you are believing is not true, would you want to know?

This is a crucial question. Jot it down.

Now, there are really only two possible answers to this question:

“Yes” or “No.”

What do you think most people will say to that question?

Ninety nine percent of the people wills say, “Yes.”

If the person says “Yes,” then you have their permission to go on to the next phase (which we’ll look at in next week’s class [not available on ABR website, sorry]).

If they say, “No,” what should you do?


Bill Fay says in his book (Share Jesus Without Fear) that he has been asking people this question for over 16 years and has never heard a “No” that stuck. So you just look at them.

Often they’ll realize what they’ve just said, and realize that their “No” answer sounds really stupid!

When they say “Yes” they have just given you permission to share with them.

Has there been any fighting or arguing taking place? None.

Has the person been offended by anything you’ve said? Nope. In fact, he probably thought the conversation was a rather pleasant talk. He’s been doing all the talking! And he is probably blessed that you have been interested in him and his opinions!

Using this approach will help you avoid all kinds of arguments, disagreements, entanglements with a person’s intellect, discussions about world religions, etc.

I just had the opportunity to ask these questions to a woman named Cindy two days ago.

1. Do you have any spiritual beliefs?
2. Who is Jesus Christ to you?
3. Do you believe in Heaven or Hell?
4. If you were to die, where would you go?
5. If what you are believing is not true, would you want to know?

I listened to her answers, and then took her into the next phase, sharing the gospel with her. A short time later I had the privilege of praying with her to receive Christ. Give this approach a try sometime. I pray that the Lord uses you mightily!


is an itinerant Christian apologist, the founder of ABR, and the author of several books and videos, some of which include:

•  Archaeological Evidence for the Bible
•  One-Minute Answers to Skeptics
•  Dakota Knox & the Archaeology Thief + Dakota Knox: London, Love, & Terror + Dakota Knox: Nightmare at the Museum
•  Scrolls & Stones: Compelling Evidence the Bible Can Be Trusted
•  Evidence for God
•  The Case for Christianity 
•  The Bible’s Scientific Accuracy and Foresight
•  Answering Atheists
•  Treachery on Celestia: A Futuristic Young Adults Thriller
•  The Case for the Resurrection
•  If God is Loving, Why is there Evil and Suffering?
•  Apologetics Quotes
•  The End Times and Beyond: 
A Concise, Chronological Overview of End-Time Bible Prophecies
•  Dad, Does God Exist? + Dad, Why Do We Believe the Bible?


Charlie Campbell speaks at churches throughout the year. If you're a pastor and would like him to speak at your church, conference, men's retreat, etc., please contact ABR here and let us know.

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