Train Everyone to Proclaim the Gospel (Fay: Part 1)

As promised, Bill Fay’s five questions:

Bill Fay, Sharing Jesus Without FearBill Fay wrote a remarkable book some years ago titled, Share Jesus Without Fear. In it, he shares his testimony and the way that he goes about moving conversation to the gospel. We always want balance between sensitivity, warmth, and compassion on the one hand and bold, authoritative, clarity on the other hand in our proclamation of the gospel.

About ten years ago I ran across his book and it has revolutionized how I move to the gospel.  I find that it is sensitive, not pushy, and very natural. A couple of points before I give Bill’s five questions.

  • I do not have the spiritual gift of evangelism.
  • I am not naturally bold.
  • I am not naturally fearless when it comes to sharing my faith.
  • I sometimes have a greater fear of men than I have of God.

One More Thing: Have you ever thought about the fact that nowhere in the Scripture are we commanded to pray for the salvation of the unredeemed? Nowhere. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t pray for their salvation, I’m just pointing out that we aren’t commanded to pray for it. Hmmmmm. Why?

My Conclusion: God doesn’t need to command us to do things that he knows our natural tendency is to do. We will pray for the unsaved. Why? Because it is easy to do. It is a spiritual activity that is easy, painless, and safe.  We do it easily almost without thinking, like breathing. On the other hand, there are numerous passages where we are commanded to pray for boldness, or where NT figures ask others to pray for their boldness in proclaiming the gospel. Hmm. Why is that?

A Second Conclusion: God commands us to do those things which he knows are not our natural tendency. He commands us to do those things that are right to do but that we tend to shy away from, avoid, or neglect. He commands us to proclaim because it is harder, sometimes an opportunity to be rejected, and risky and without his command, we will only pray. Okay, Bill Fay’s five simple questions:

  1. Do you have any kind of spiritual belief system?
  2. Where does Jesus fit into your spiritual belief system?
  3. Do you believe in a heaven or hell?
  4. If you were to die, where would you go according to your spiritual belief system?
  5. If what you believed wasn’t true, would you want to know?

You ask each question and shut up. Just listen. Let the person tell you anything they want to related to the question you asked. For some it will be 30 seconds for others the answer may take 30 minutes. But all you do is ask a question and listen to the answer. With each answer that they give, you move to the next question. The fifth question is the turning point. You ask it and like each of the other questions, you shut up and listen.

If the person says “yes” you move to whatever gospel presentation you are comfortable with or trained with. Bill Fay likes to use his Bible and walk the person through the Roman Road. And again, his pattern is to turn to a passage and ask a question. “Would you read this verse for me?”

“Out loud?” is often the response, to which Bill Fay says, “Yeah.”

The person reads the verse, and then Bill asks, “What does that mean?” If the person interprets the text properly, he moves to the next verse in the Roman Road. If they don’t understand the verse, he asks another question, “would you read that again?” He doesn’t move to the next verse until they understand what they have read.

I try to keep these short so come back Friday and I will finish this up. You have to know what to do if a person says “no” to question 5.


7 thoughts on “Train Everyone to Proclaim the Gospel (Fay: Part 1)

  1. This is a really good post, Marty. Thanks!

    I was trained in Fay’s method during college, and we got several opportunities to “practice” it. Unfortunately, I never experienced any success with it… like, of any kind. Once you can move naturally into question 1, I suppose it could work really well. My problem has been getting to question 1. It’s a really awkward, jolting question, even as generic as it is. It only took one time hearing, “My spiritual beliefs are my own business, thank you” (with a look of disgust on the guy’s face) for me to permanently adopt a more hesitant stance toward popping that question (or any other similar one).

    I also think the whole method is pretty irrelevant outside of a Christendom context. It assumes people have heard of Jesus and heaven and hell, and have a basic acceptance of the existence of an afterlife, if not a conception of it in terms of “place.” It also requires them to trust that you, or at least the Bible, are an trustworthy source of Truth. Unfortunately, the majority of Americans consciously deny the latter, along with being overtly hostile to the slightest hint of uninvited proselytization.

    Lastly, I would say that a certain type of interpersonal conversation skills are the next tier of skills above the gift of evangelism.

    Can you tell I really suck at evangelism?

    Love you, brother.

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    1. Matt,

      Like McCloskey wrote in the 80’s, “Tell it Often, Tell it Well.” I have found the questions to be immensely helpful in every context with people inside and outside of Christendom. In fact, my favorite time to use them is with my Muslim friends. I’ll talk about that in my Friday post.

      The first question can be awkward if you are going on an “I’m-going-out-to-witness-now” kind of mission. But I find that when I am loving my neighbors, caring for my community, engaged with the culture–life issues come up and it is quite natural to slide into a “Joe, let me ask you a question. We’ve been golfing out here for a couple of months once a week; you know I’m a Christian. Do you have any kind of spiritual belief system?”

      Last week I was out at a bar with some guys who invited me out for a “guys night out” and slid into these questions without much effort. I think it is really a matter of practice, practice, practice for most of us. Even if our interpersonal communication skills are below average.

      I’ll try to deal with your third paragraph a bit on Friday but I might have to go a bit further on Saturday to deal with the truth issues you raise in the last two sentences.

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  2. I’m grateful for Bill providing a method of evangelism that engages a person where they are rather than simply popping an outline on the person. I’ve never used Bill’s questions directly but find the first couple to be the exactly what I’m figuring out as I engage a person with the gospel. I can see in a post-modern world that some may not be sure how to answer a couple of the questions but even that would provide conversation fodder to continue the dialogue about Christ.

    While this is certainly not theology, one of my favorite evangelism quotes comes I believe from the hockey great Wayne Gretzky. I believe he was the person who once said “One-hundred percent of shots not taken don’t go into the net.” Thanks, Bill Faye, for giving us another way to take the shot that so few take today.

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  3. Thanks for the post Marty. I have used Fay’s material with average success. This questioning evangelism is very helpful to find out what the person actually believes. Most importantly it helps the seeker think deeper about their spiritual beliefs.

    Some people were grateful that I was asking what they were thinking instead of just talking to them about my beliefs. Good stuff. Thanks brother.

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    1. Hey Buddy, good to see you this past week and good to hear you in the comments. I had average success too at first, but its like spring training, the more at bats you get, the better you get. Keep at it.

      You are exactly right. One of the best things about the five questions is it gives “the other guy” a chance to speak his piece. It’s not a monologue by us but a dialog spurred by an interested believer who wants to be faithful to Jesus and sensitive to his neighbor’s need for the gospel.

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  4. Marty,
    I have come back here 3 times to read this series of posts…
    This approach is new to me… I can’t thank you enough for posting it.
    I want to prayerfully engage these questions in my community…

    Thank you, brother.

    I so appreciate you — please keep posting words that draw us deeper into the Word…

    All’s grace,
    Ann

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    1. Ann,

      I am honored that anyone would come back to these pages but especially by someone I respect so much. I hope that they prove helpful to your already extraordinary ministry.

      By the way your mention of the brief devotional from July 9th “Music From the Heart of God?” resulted in a huge new stream of visitors to the blog. Among them were two church planters needing a mentor. Thanks for the mention.

      May God continue to use you mightily in and outside your community.

      For those of you who don’t know Ann, you can find her and her God-ward words at http://aholyexperience.com.

      Always in my prayers,

      Marty

      Like

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