Apologetics is too often taught as an approach of confrontation–which it is–but a confrontation of monologue, instead of socratic dialogue. This rarely works with an unconcerned or uninterested unbeliever. Start giving your spiel, your pre-packaged sales pitch of “Have you ever lied, stolen, or coveted,” and watch their eyes glaze over. Maybe not every person, but increasingly the norm.
The problem with this approach is that it does not begin where your conversation partner is, because you haven’t taken the time to discover what his opposition to the gospel is yet. There are a thousand ways to suppress the truth, so we don’t know how a particular person is doing that until we take the time to ask questions in a way that encourages conversation. This is especially true of unbelievers that show no concern or interest in the gospel.
Os Guinness speaks to the importance of questions when engaging unbelievers with the gospel:
[I]n our age most people are untroubled rather than unreached, unconcerned rather than unconvinced, and they need questions as much as answers–or questions that raise questions that require answers that prompt people to become genuine seekers…The goal is to use questions to raise questions, and so to puncture whatever are the walls of indifference, and to do so in a style and language that speaks to the person we are engaging with.
By asking questions we move from having to create interest by force of personality or some gimmick to showing genuine interest in the person and engaging the root of their resistance to God.
Christians have won an insufferable reputation as always dispensing answers, even when no one has a question. Raise questions well, and we will be known for the searching questions we raise, to which the good news can be looked to for the only satisfactory answers.
Os Guinness, Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion (IVP, 2015), 124-5.