It’s also helpful to think of these types of questions as catalyst questions. They act the same way a catalyst acts in chemistry: all the ingredients are there for a chemical reaction, but nothing happens until we add a catalyst. When it comes to evangelism, sometimes all the ingredients are there for a good conversation about Jesus—trust, relationships, friends, hospitality—but we need a nudge question, a catalyst question, to launch the conversation into the next layer.

Nudge questions are designed to give our friend permission to talk about their faith, spirituality, and religion. Here are some examples of nudge questions:

  • What are you looking for in life?
  • Why is this important to you?
  • What is the one thing you absolutely must have in this life?
  • What happens if you don’t find what you’re looking for?
  • What do you think it all means?
  • What do you believe about God?
  • What do you think God wants from you?
  • Do you have a faith?
  • What religion did your parents raise you with?16
  • Do you pray?
  • What’s the best thing about being a Muslim?17
  • Tell me about some traditions, festivals, or celebrations that are important to you?
  • What do people get wrong about Islam?

When we ask these questions, the goal is to listen and give them the permission to keep on talking. We’re not trying to give them advice. We’re not trying to have an argument. We’re not trying to reason them into the faith. We’re not trying to debate them. We’re not asking them to defend their position. We are simply using the questions to give them our permission to take the conversation to the next level. It’s an invitation, not an inquisition or interrogation.

Chan, Sam, and Ed Stetzer. 2020. How to Talk about Jesus (without Being That Guy): Personal Evangelism in a Skeptical World. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Check out our Bible Study on Sam Chan’s book How to Talk About Jesus. It is on Amazon as well as part of the Good Questions Have Groups Talking subscription service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.