Be an archaeologist. Dig up people’s history to find the real barriers that are standing between them and Christ. People often have unspoken issues that are getting in the way of them coming to faith in Christ. They may have intellectual issues that are keeping them from understanding why Christianity is true; in that case, they need answers from apologetics. They may have emotional issues that are preventing them from considering the truth; in that case, they need you to listen to their concerns, demonstrate compassion, and pray for them. They may have volitional issues in which they simply don’t want to consider Christianity because they’d rather run their own lives than let God guide them; in that case, they need love and prayer. Determine whether the questions people are asking are legitimate or a diversion designed to avoid the truth. Uncover the nature of their barriers and the concerns behind their questions. Find out what would motivate them to get answers to their questions about Christ.

Be a builder. Build bridges to the Gospel for people. Find the right balance in your approach between objective evidence (such as evidence for Christ’s resurrection) and subjective experience (such as how people see God at work in your own life as a role model to them). Find common ground with the people you’re trying to reach, and use those areas you have in common as the basis for meaningful dialogue. Earn the right to be heard. Then build a bridge from a point of shared beliefs toward the Gospel. Build “head bridges” by helping people come to understand the Christian faith better. Build “heart bridges” by showing people how Jesus satisfies the longings of their hearts and helps them realize their hopes. Then look for opportunities to transition from preparing people’s minds and hearts to actually sharing the Gospel message with them.

Deal well with different worldviews. Get to know people’s varying worldviews well, and help them work through worldview issues on their own timetable, not yours. Don’t pressure them to make immediate decisions; that will turn them off. Be patient and keep encouraging them to question for themselves whether or not the foundation of their worldview is adequate. Use these two key questions as measuring sticks: “Is your belief system consistently affirmable?” and “Is your belief system in fact livable?”. Focus your questions on the issues that stand out the most, regularly asking the Holy Spirit for the wisdom to discern what questions to ask and when.

Answer the questions behind the questions. Aim to not only answer people’s stated questions, but also the questions behind the questions they ask you. For each question they ask, consider: “What are the possible questions (or issues) behind each question (or issue) that needs to be addressed?”, “What terms that they use need to be clarified?”, “What truth do I want them to grasp about the question or issue raised?”, and “What questions and illustrations can I use to help them grasp this truth?”.  Then do your best to provide solid answers to their questions in ways that build bridges for them to cross to the Gospel. For example, if someone asks you, “Is it true that we’re all going to be judged after this life is over?” he or she may really be asking, “Is God really fair for sending some people to hell?” or “Should God be punishing me even when I do my very best?”. After answering the person’s stated question (“God is just because no person lives up to His standard of right and wrong,” you can add a statement that builds a bridge to the Gospel, such as: “But the good news is that God has provided an answer to our dilemma by sending Jesus …”.