Defending the Faith Part 9: The Art of Asking Questions

| Saturday, August 6, 2011 | |
by Greg Koukl

Christians find themselves in many different situations where they want to influence people for the greater good, or defend their faith. When defending the faith, one of the most important tactics that we can use in conversation is the asking of questions (Columbo). Like other tactics, asking good questions and asking the right number of questions is a skill that takes practice. In his book, In But Not Of, Hugh Hewitt, gives us some practical advice as to how to do this: Ask at least a half-dozen questions in every conversation

This skill at inquiry will immediately mark you as different and attractive. . . . When you ask questions, you are displaying interest in the person asked and in most settings this is a great boon to the pride and self-worth of the person being asked. Most people are not queried on many, if any, subjects. Their opinions are not solicited. To ask them is to be remembered fondly as a very interesting and gracious person in your own right.

Once developed, the habit of asking questions will inevitably give you advantages in every setting. You will obviously leave most situations with more information (and friends) than when you arrived, and being an asker allows you control of situations that statement makers rarely achieve. Once you learn how to guide a conversation, you have also learned how to control it. You can express your own opinions as questions, and every human emotion can be conveyed this way.

An alert questioner can judge when someone grows uneasy. But don't stop. Just change directions.

Asking questions and marking yourself as fair minded and interested in others will do a lot to keep the conversations civil and you in control of your message rather than having to defend assertions that you have made. Questions disarm people and lower their defenses so that a conversation can be a useful exchange of ideas rather than a battle of wills.

Next time: The Suicide Tactic - when an arguments holds the seeds of it's own demise

For more extensive tactics training go to and look for Tactics in Defending the Faith Mentoring Series or STRi DVD interactive training in our online store or call Stand to Reason at 1-800-2-REASON.


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