Friday, August 14, 2009

What Questions are People ACTUALLY Asking?

The other day I came across some research by Ed Stetzer that was and is fascinating. If you grew up like I did, you know the typical question you are suppose to ask "lost" people... "If you were to die right now, where would you go?" I always thought that this question was obviously permeating the minds of all the sinners walking the streets... why else ask it? However, according to Stetzer's research this question is the wrong question to be asking... simply because people really just don't think about it... let's look at his stats...

Interestingly, "Will I go to heaven when I die?" is not a question most Americans ask themselves with much frequency.

I think it is pretty clear what the results were. There are a good number of people who ask that question and do so frequently, but most do not.

Perhaps in previous generations people were asking questions about life after death, and so evangelistic approaches that focused on that issue were contextually appropriate. But the times - they are a-changing.

It appears that more people are thinking about meaning and purpose than life after death. (And it is important to note that the Bible provides the answers to all these questions.)

More people are thinking about is the purpose of life. People are looking for and thinking about purpose: perhaps one of the reasons that Purpose Driven Life has been such a best seller.

Why are we here? How can my life have meaning, value and significance? Explaining what the gospel says to these questions will more readily demonstrate just how relevant the gospel is to their lives. What happens after death is eternally important, but the world isn't always ready to see that. But they are somewhat prepared to consider that because we are made in God's image we have infinite value and dignity; that sin is what robs us of experiencing the reason for which we have been made - to glorify God and enjoy him forever; that Jesus alone is our only hope of redemption - that in him our sins are forgiven, the image of God is restored in us and by him we can glorify God and enjoy him now and forever.

This is the work of contextualization. Answering the questions the world is asking from God's word, pointing them back to the gospel. This is why I value research (asking questions, and really listening). Let's be about the business of making the gospel clear. To do that you will have to do more than speak. You'll need to do some listening as well.

So... instead of just awkwardly asking someone if they DIE... (a great way to start a question) where would they spend eternity... Let's answer the questions people are actually asking. The Bible has answers for purpose driven questions not just eternal security.

What do you think....

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2 comments:

Daniel said...

Hey man, right on here. I have been talking to my cousin and friends at Cornell and all they care about is purpose. They search for it without pause. Everyone of them is questioning the purpose of technology, the purpose of what they are building (they are engineers.) They wonder if there is more than just the advancement of technology for an easier lifestyle. All of them are dying for human purpose, relational purpose; whether they know it or not, sadly many of them do, but do not know where to find it. The old questions dont work. New ones are needed. Piper has good thoughts on it.

Just saw that you are an Acts 29 guy - me as well. My church just hosted the Acts 29 ecclesiology of worship conf. with Tim Smith of Mars Hill, Seattle. It was really an amazing day.

DAP said...

hey man, i had a comments ready and it booted me!

i read almost all your stuff. good post.

ive thought about this often...while what happens to us when we die is an interesting convo...no one really wants to talk about that, and way to get someone on their heels, right?

ive always thought that the best method of evangelism is in matthew 25:35+....clothe me, feed me, give me shelter....in other words, meet their need here in this life.

of course this takes alot loner than asking a simple question...but thats a good thing, because it also shows more love towards the person.

hm...i guess canvasing malls is out of the question, hunh? :-)