Can Five Questions Change Your Next Conversation with Your Neighbor?

(Bill Fay: Part 2)

This post continues yesterday’s discussion about Bill Fay’s 5 questions.

Short story: Yesterday afternoon, I went down the street to a neighbor I have been seeking to influence for Christ. A tree in my backyard had broken off in a  wind storm and I wanted to borrow a ladder so that my son and I could try to cut it out. I can’t even remember how it happened, but there was a moment, where a statement was made or question was asked and the natural response for me was to talk about and then ask my 5 questions.

This time I finished with the fifth question and was not able to move to a gospel presentation because a family member drove up right at that moment to drop off three grandchildren and ended our conversation. But it proved once again, how natural and productive the five questions are for moving the conversation to spiritually important issues. I look forward to my next interaction with my neighbor to take the conversation deeper.

Okay, picking up yesterday’s thread: What do you do if the person says “No” to question 5?

Nothing. Just stop. Now, this is important. Don’t say anything. Don’t change the topic; don’t ask “why?” Don’t laugh or make a joke or say “I understand.” Just be quiet. All you have done in the whole conversation is ask questions. Don’t change now.

Bill Fay says, and I can confirm he is right from ten years of using these questions (now 20 years), almost everyone says “Yes” to the fifth question. But when someone says “No”, if you will stay quiet for 30 seconds, they almost always come back with something like, “Well aren’t you going to tell me?”

You see, people can’t stand the silence, they can’t stand that you aren’t offering some response and they ask you to continue. I have used the questions for ten years and I can tell you almost everyone says yes to question 5.

Now here is the exception that I have found—Muslims. And I love using these questions with Muslims. Because I know why he says no and frankly, I wish more people said no for the reasons that Muslims do.

A Muslim knows that if he entertains the possibility that his spiritual belief system might be wrong (unheard off in Muslim circles), and if he changes his belief system, he could lose his language, his culture, his marriage family, his birth family, and in some instances, his life. The Muslim friend that I am talking to at this point is counting the cost of potentially following Christ. I wish more people who say “yes” too easily would be like my Muslim friends.

Now in those situations with my Muslim friends, I do say something. I know that it is unlikely that I am going to convert him in just a few moments. So my goal changes. I want to create dissonance in his heart. I want to make him think. So here’s what I do.

“I have asked hundreds of people these questions. Almost everyone says “Yes” except my Muslim friends. And I know why you and my other friends say no. You are counting the cost. You know that if you entertain any thought that your belief system might be wrong, you risk losing your language, your culture, your family and in some places, even your life. This is serious stuff so I appreciate you taking it seriously.”

Oops, I’m over my 500-word, self-imposed limit, so I’ll have to finish up on Saturday with Part 3. See you then.

Update:  About three years and many conversations later, my neighbor, having moved from atheism, to theism, to attending church, to an admiration for Christ, to “belief in Christ but not his deity”, to final belief in Christ as God, came to believe in Christ about two months before he died of emphysema. Another triumph for the gospel and a rescue to the Savior.  I look forward to seeking Mark at the feet of the Savior. 

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