Did you know that the Gospels record Jesus asking 183 questions? That, when asked, He only gave three direct answers to three questions, but answered 307 questions with a question! (Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus by Sherry Weddell, Our Sunday Visitor, 2012)
What do you think caused the Son of God to ask so many questions?
What happens to you when someone asks you a genuine question and then stops to listen to your answer? How does it make you feel? What does it do to your thinking?
Pastor Mark Ashton says, “The question is one of the most powerful tools we have when it comes to sharing our faith with others.” Here’s why:
Questions help to steer a conversation.
Questions make people think—to reevaluate their positions, beliefs and values.
Questions show interest and make people feel known and valued.
Questions can be a tactful way to confront a person’s poor thinking.
Questions allow people to share information about themselves, and then open their hearts to learn more about someone or something else.
Questions invite decision.” (adapted from Evangelism, Willow Creek Association)
So, what makes a great question? Great questions are open-ended, compelling people to think carefully. Open-ended questions most often start with “How…?” or “What…?” or “Who…?” and encourage conversation. Great questions are also often the ones you don’t actually know the answer to, coming from a place of real curiosity. “Really? I never knew that! Can you tell me more?” These questions draw out an incredible variety of responses! Great questions build on each other, following up on a response you listened to. “Can you explain that further?” These questions clarify or probe a little deeper. And very often great questions are clear and concise, easy to understand. For example, “Who was God to you when you were little?” and “What has your spiritual journey been like since then?”
Anyone can become a great question-asker. What it takes is intentionality and practice. Practice with your friends, your family, your neighbors, at dinner, in the car, and with anyone you meet during the day. However, don’t forget to listen for answers, or your great questions will be wasted!
Interim Southwest Regional Director