How to Use Directive Questions in Personal Evangelism, Part 1

When asking directive questions, I usually begin with an introduction if I do not know the person. There are several acrostics that can be used to help you in your directive questioning and conversation: FIRE, CAST, FIRM (more on what they stand for later) to name a few. Some people push back against using these because they do not feel natural. I suggest that you try these in some way until they become natural to your personality and style. An acrostic is just a simple plan to help guide the conversation from the everyday talk to God talk in a smooth and natural way. At any point, the person you are talking to can break the conversation off, or head it in another direction. If you bring it back on track and he or she keeps getting off the track, you will know that they are not comfortable talking about this.

Sometimes you will need to cross over the comfort level with a person. It may not only be their comfort level but yours also that you are crossing. I remember receiving a phone call from a friend. One of her relatives, an uncle was in the local hospital and the doctor didn’t give him much time to live. She wanted me to go and visit him and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with him. I had never met the man. I went.

After introducing myself to him, I asked what the doctor had told him about his condition. He said, “The doctor told me that I should get my affairs in order.” I asked, “What thoughts went through your mind when you heard that?” He said that he needed to make sure his will was in order and his wife knew where the life insurance policies were. I said, “Making preparations for those you leave behind is very important, but that’s not all the preparation.” He asked, “What do you mean?” I said, “You will need to prepare yourself as well. Do you know what to do?” He said, “I’m not sure.” I continued, “Mr. Jacobs, if you would like, I can share with you some very important information about preparing yourself for leaving this earth and moving on into eternity if you’d like. It’s up to you, and you can do with it what you want, no pressure.” He replied, “Go ahead.” At this point in the conversation Mr. Jacobs was willing for me to share the gospel as to how he can be prepared to meet God. I am happy to write that he trusted Christ as his Savior and Lord before he died.

These kind of experiences do not happen every day, but once in a while you will be put in a position to move quickly to the spiritual issues and the sharing of the gospel. Flexablility is a must. That is why it is good to have a plan for your directive conversation.

I use the an acrostic to help me remember the relational progression of the questions: FIRE. “F” is for Friend. You are making a friend. The questions you ask at this point in the relationship will let you know if the person is open to you … or not. I have discovered that if people will not talk to you about everyday things, they will not talk to you about spiritual things either. At this level of conversation you are trying to become familiar with the person by asking where they are from; what’s it like living there; what did you do for fun; are they married; have children; what brought them to where they are now, etc.

After the introduction questions and usually sharing something about myself that might intersect with him/her, I move on to value questions. If I find out what career they are in, I ask what their dream job would be. I ask where they see themselves in 5 or 10 years. “What do you like most about what you do? What do you like the least? Who has had the most influence in your life? Is there anything you would do different if you had the courage you needed? What give you the most fulfillment in life?” These are the kind of questions I move to, all things being equal.


About Jimmy Kinnaird

Jimmy started his ministry on the streets of the French Quarter of New Orleans leading a jazz band as a tool to witness for Christ. He has also been a church staff member, church planter, pastor, and Church Outreach Team Leader for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Recently, Jimmy served as Personal Evangelism Resource Coordinator on the Personal Evangelism Team at the North American Mission Board, SBC. He is currently pastor of Village Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
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