youth worker, youth ministry, student ministry

Ask Intentional Questions

By Doug Franklin January 11, 2010

One problem our small groups leaders often have is the skill of asking intentional questions. I  see this skill as not about asking good questions but asking hard ones. Most of the time adult small group leaders don’t know what to ask, so they tend to ask general questions which lead to general answers. When general questions are asked, students think their is only one right answer and so they stay silent for fear of saying something wrong. This silence makes small group leaders uncomfortable and willing to accept any tidbit of a response.  In the end, we end up with shallow answers and shallow small groups. Students answering what they think the adult wants to hear instead of searching their heart and applying the truth that is being taught them. Here’s some steps to help our small group leaders ask intentional questions.

1. Focus on Application
Quality over quantity; try to ask just a few questions that all lead to application. Questions that require students to regurgitate the information are a waste of time – students are not interested. Focus questions on how the principle interacts int the students’ lives and they will be willing to talk.

2. Train, Practice, Evaluate
This is going to sound crazy but have a training session on asking intentional questions and give your adults time to practice with each other. Adult volunteers will never be great questions askers unless they can practice. Your adults need training, practice and evaluations to really get good at this. When they practice in front of you – you can give them feedback and encouragement.s

3. Develop a list
Create a list of intentional questions and challenge your volunteers to ask students these questions in causal settings. This will help your adults understand how important these questions are to you. They will also get comfortable asking hard questions. The benefits will be transformational relationships between your staff and students. When they talk about hard stuff they will get to the most important question, “so where you at with Jesus?”.

Some of my favorite hard questions:
What is your relationship like with your parents?
What does God think about you?
What don’t you like about yourself?
How important is it to you that people like you?
Who has had the greatest impact on your life?

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More