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VINE VOICEon 16 August 2005
Randy: How's the weather down there?
Grandma Belle: How could the weather be in Florida in the middle of July?
Randy: How's your family?
Aunt Vivian: Compared to whom?
In this way Randy Newman starts off his book on evangelism. Responding to a question with a question was the daily routine for Newman as he grew up in a Jewish home. Yet he points to Jesus, the master evangelist, as the supreme example in this. For Jesus answering a question with a question was the norm; a clear concise direct answer was a rarity. Take the rich young ruler for example - if ever there was a great opportunity to demonstrate how to explain the gospel this was it. Yet when asked, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?", Jesus responds, "Why do you call me good?"
Newman argues that so often we are too quick to answer, and that as we answer with our perfectly accurate answer, they aren't listening anyway. His point is that we need to engage their minds as well as simply present the truth. He says, "Answering a question with a question... brings to the surface the questioner's assumptions. It also takes the pressure off you... this is important because as long as we're on the defensive, the questioners are not really wrestling with the issues. They're just watching us squirm."
Throughout the book Newman illustrates with excerpts from his own work as a college evangelist over the last 20 years. With great openness he shows, not only the times he got it right, but also the times he got it wrong, and the lessons he learned from each occasion. He also gives practical suggestions throughout for questions you could ask, as well as giving dialogues to show how a conversation might go. These illustrations go along way to making the book practical, applicable, and easy to read. There is also a gentleness throughout the book that is extremely winsome. His way is not a triumphalist approach to evangelism, seeking to display wisdom and crush the opposition with knowledge, but a gentle way, seeking to understand the questioner, and seeking to provide real answers.
The book is divided into three sections, each full of useful content:
Part 1 - "Why ask questions?" - deals with the rationale and principles behind asking questions.
In Part 2 - "What questions are people asking?" - Newman shows how to, and how not to, answer questions like, `Why are Christians so intolerant?' `Why are Christians homophobic?' `Why does a good God allow suffering?'. There is a lot of practical wisdom packed into these chapters.
The third part - "Why aren't questions and answers enough?" - he turns the focus towards ourselves and deals with our lack of compassion for the lost, the problem of when our disgust at sin becomes disgust at the sinner, and how we can fail to listen.
Newman speaks about recognising the `fool' of Proverbs who shouldn't be answered, of how and when to ignore questions, he speaks of asking questions to discover what really lies behind the original question, of grasping the hurt that someone has been through that may be disguised in a casual question.
As well as providing a useful method for evangelism Newman also conveys a lot of useful facts on a variety of topics that will strengthen the believer in their faith. This is a great book that will equip you for evangelism, and give you a way of thinking that will be much more useful than simply learning a set of rules or facts.
Buy it and implement it
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on 29 March 2005
This is one of the best Christian books I've read in the past five years, and you should definitely buy it if you're a Christian who wants to respond sensitively to the questions put to you by unbelievers.
Newman makes the observation that when Jesus is asked questions (eg the rich man in Mark: "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"), more often than not, Jesus responds by asking a question himself.
This is a great way to approach evangelistic conversations because it takes pressure off the person being questioned, helps the questioner to see inconsistencies in his or her own thinking without getting into a slanging match, and enables a much more natural and thought-provoking dialogue to ensue.
So many books on Christian apologetics concentrate on giving Christians 'pat' answers to memorise - but this is so much better. It's more a general way of thinking than it is a 'method'. And it really helps to avoid answers that are patronising, misguided or simply inappropriate.
Newman includes a number of imaginary dialogues with non-Christians, and tackles some of the biggest issues, including suffering, homophobia, pluralism, hypocrisy.
Thorough, biblical, faithful, and loving, it really makes you want to get out there and share the gospel with people.
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on 18 April 2009
There are a lot of very compelling reviews about this book, so I won't say a lot here. But I appreciate Newman's ability to offer his method and apologetic without trashing the other methods. His history in Campus Crusade has obviously given him a passion for sharing the Gospel message, and that passion comes through loud and clear in this book.

On the otherhand, Newman frees the reader/evangelist/disciple to listen and ask thought provoking questions rather than always filling in the blanks for people. So much teaching/learning in modern Christianity is done by filling in's a shame we don't think more. This book encourages thinking.

I particularly appreciate the author's personal Jewish history shared throughout the book, those facts and stories are enlightening, helpful and at times humorous. It's a good book.
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on 7 April 2010
This book is really worth a read. It gives you a great new style of evangelism to think about. There is no set technique for sharing the good news about Jesus. The way Randy Newman sets out using more questions, in particular answering questions with questions is a really useful way to help people become more interested in hearing the gospel.

If you are a christian and you struggle with evangelism at times (which surely is all of us at somepoint!) then this book will help you to think of new ways to chat through issues with your friends.
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on 10 February 2015
I have found this a very interesting and practical book. I am hoping to put what I have learnt from it into practice and it is good to have the book to refer back to when I need to refresh my memory on the general approach of sharing my faith by engaging others in conversation by asking questions about what they believe and opening up discussion in a helpful way, instead of trying to defend my beliefs when people are not interested.
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on 12 December 2013
This has to be the best book on evangelism I have ever read. Very practical and useful in evangelism. Brill!
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on 1 April 2015
This is the kind of stuff that works. If you are really interested in having profitable, productive conversations about the Lord then this book will help. I was surprised at how much space was given to homosexuality and marriage but it all was useful.
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on 4 September 2009
I had expected this book to be a bit more profound. The writer is more open-minded than the average Christian. Believers who tend to bore others with evangelization methods should read it.
There is still that feeling that we are the enlightened and above the others who are lost (even though I am sure that was not the author's intention).
I would recommend reading "a.k.a. Lost: Discovering Ways to Connect with the People Jesus Misses Most by Jim Henderson".
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on 3 February 2016
Very thought prevoking and make you look at evangelism in a different way
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