How to Ask Questions Like Jesus

Imagine the perfect small group. Eyes are alive with engagement and focus. Questions are popping with deep thoughts. Just like Jesus, you’re leading your students into life-changing truths. They’re bringing their hearts to the conversation, and thinking new thoughts. Real disciples are forming right before your eyes. This—this!—is why you work with young people.

Reality, however, is often a bit different. While you’re trying to engage life-changing truths, Peter is making paper airplanes. While you’re trying to help them bring their hearts to the conversation, Becca is talking to Lindsey about her newest boyfriend. And when you try to get them to think new thoughts, you get blank stares. Or at least, that’s how it feels on the bad nights . . .

Small groups go wrong for a lot of reasons. Sometimes, we blame the students (I’ve just got a really tough/rowdy/quiet/talkative group of students). Sometimes, we blame the context (There are just too many distractions). Sometimes, we blame the content (The setup just wasn’t right, and the students weren’t interested). But most often, small groups go wrong because we simply ask the wrong questions, or we ask the questions wrong.

We need to learn to ask questions like Jesus.

We must become ‘question artists’—those who delight in finding just the right way to lead people to truth.

Notice what Jesus does in Matthew 16:
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah …

  • Jesus ‘preheats’ the real question. Notice how the first question is so non-threatening. Nearly anyone feels safe telling you about other people. If Jesus had started with “Who do you say I am?”, the conversation would have a totally different feel. I’ll often start a question sequence like this: “What do people at school gossip about?” “What modern-day idols do people worship instead of God?” “How can you tell what is important to someone?”
  • Jesus Pushes it Personal. After pre-heating the question, Jesus goes straight to the heart. It isn’t personal and attacking, but it is personal and gently probing. Because he pre-heated the conversation with the first question, the disciples will answer the real question. It could look like this: “How about us? What sorts of things are ‘ok’ for Christians to gossip about?” “Let’s be honest for a second. What idols do you struggle with?” “So, what’s important to you? What priorities other than God threaten to take first place in your life?”
  • Jesus goes nuts over a good answer. Too often, we’re too busy thinking about our next question. We fail to properly acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of our students. Jesus goes crazy in his compliments of Peter: “Blessed are you … God revealed this to you … you’re a rock … I’ll build my church on you … I’ll give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven …” Wow, Jesus is excited! We should be, too, when our students really engage. It forms the culture for our group.

There’s a lot more to asking questions like Jesus—and we’ll catch some more of his secrets next time. Until then, try this out: (1) What do others think/say/do about this? (2) How about you? (3) Awesome! Well done! Great thought! Wow!

What teaching secrets of Jesus do you see in Scripture? Click here to share them with the rest of us.

Animated Social Media Icons Powered by Acurax Wordpress Development Company
%d bloggers like this: