If You Ask the Wrong Question You Will Always Get the Wrong Answer

If You Ask the Wrong Question You Will Always Get the Wrong Answer

By Jan Edmiston, DMin ’01 and 222nd General Assembly Co-moderator with T. Denise Anderson.

We hear the same burning questions as Church Leaders over and over again:

How can we bring young people back into the church?

How can we make people dress up for Sunday worship?

What’s the best way to get young people to tithe?

These questions make me tired.

What if we asked these instead:

How can we bring broken people into the church?

How can we shift our culture to care less about what people are wearing and more about how people are connecting with God and each other?

What inspires the people in our community and how can we equip them to do what feeds their souls?

How can we make it easier for people to contribute their money and time?

Tip of the hat to Laurie Brubaker Davis whose DMin project “Listening to the Moment: Where Young Adults are Finding Church” is where I got the idea for this post.  She is a good person to connect with about young adults and church. She asks good questions.

The best questions these days start with why?

Why do we offer Sunday School at 9:30 am?

Why do we still do a paper newsletter?

Why do we exist as a church?

Honest answers happen only in safe congregations (because it’s important to allow people to respond with “I have no idea.“)

Here are some of my favorite questions to ask church people:

Why are you part of this church?

What stirs your soul?

Who was the first person to tell you about Jesus?

If you could write 95 Proposals for today’s Church (we could even call them “theses”) what would they be about?

And here are questions for pastor search committees.  And here are questions for college students.

Don’t make assumptions.  Ask clarifying questions.  And listen well for the answers.

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