CHURCH & MINISTRY
Advice for Answering Questions from GotQuestions Writers, Part 3
Answering Questions: The Series
When answering questions and concerns from others, understanding the questioner and leading them to Scripture are key, but it's also important to understand yourself. Everyone has biases, triggers, and lapses in knowledge. Knowing where you need help will make your own assistance for others more effective.
Nothing touches the heart of a spiritual seeker like hearing the personal experiences of those who have been where they are. Second Corinthians 1:4 reminds us that the Lord "comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." As we share what God has taught us, we not only help others to grow, but we reinforce for ourselves those lessons so that we continue to learn from them. ~LAM
Put yourself in the questioner's shoes. Think of a time when you experienced something similar. Empathize. Share what you have personally learned from the Lord in and through your own trials — as a means of identification with the questioner, and God's solutions. Be in the Word. Obey the Word. God always has the best counsel (James 1:2-8). ~MM
Take nothing personally. You're not battling flesh and blood. You're not arguing alone; there are at least three: you, the Spirit, and the unbeliever created in God's image, whose "God-shaped vacuum" confirms your words. ~GM
In order to be a conduit for the Holy Spirit in answering people's spiritual questions, my heart and motives need to be aligned with God's will as revealed in His Word. So the closer I am walking with God in my life, the better I will be able to answer spiritual questions. In order to speak the truth on spiritual questions, I need to rely on God's inerrant Word and be sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I strive to show people what the Bible says about their question versus what might sound to them like my own take or opinion on things. ~EC
We need to be reading the Bible, to better understand passages, with reference to the setting, people, context and application to modern day life. A strong prayer life is essential. Our obedience to the Holy Spirit will help reveal the Scriptures with great wisdom. ~CR
For easier reference, try making keeping a notepad handy to make bullet points. You can then pair the questions with corresponding verses. ~HM
The best way to provide spiritual counsel is to pray (Philippians 4:5-7), trust (Proverbs 3:5-6) and wait (Isaiah 64:4). Do not respond immediately with your first thoughts but pray, waiting upon the Holy Spirit's discernment through meditation on Scripture. Counsel with the Word of God relating Scripture within its context (Jeremiah 15:19). Focus on the examples and warnings demonstrated in Scripture and avoid making reference to personal experiences (exegesis approach; 1 Corinthians 10:11). It is God's Word that examines the heart, the motive and imparts wisdom and guidance (Hebrews 4:12; Psalm 119:105; Isaiah 55:10-11). Seek to counsel from the Holy Spirit's perspective, waiting for Him to impart His wisdom through His Word. ~MA
I seek the help of the Holy Spirit and Scripture that pertains to the answer and if I can think of a life example that I have gone through that pertains then I might add that as context. I also look through similar answers already on GotQuestions.org as there are many wonderful answers to similar questions already! ~DS
1. Thank them for their question. Share that we will with the help of the Holy Spirit answer their question based on what God says in His Word.
2. Share that we are sorry for their pain/suffering that they have expressed to us.
3. Depending on the question and knowledge therein, use different versions of the Bible that translate the same meaning in order to help them in understanding what the Bible says.
4. Lead them gently by listing things for them to carefully and prayerfully consider. ~JC
Pray about the question, thinking about what the Lord might say in response. Answer the question hitting all the salient points, trying to communicate in a way that the person will understand. When finished, pray again that the person who receives the answer understands it and can apply it to his or her life. ~JH
Pray about it, asking for God's wisdom and grace to be with you. Make sure you really understand their question(s) and gently probe if clarification is needed. Keep the tone conversational and relaxed and pay attention to how they respond to what you say. If they ask a really tricky question to which you don't have an answer, say so! Ask if you can get back to them after you check it out. Avoid the temptation to grab a Bible and start showing them scriptures right away — sometimes people just want to know your opinion, so if a verse springs to mind, ask if you can show them. Try not to use evangelical terms like being born again or filled with the Spirit — they might not have a clue what you're talking about! Keep it simple. LM
We are God's mouth to a hurting world. Let's make sure that our spoken words are compassionate and forgiving to the people around us rather than just through words on a screen. We can't hide our heart — it will come through in our writings, whether good or bad. ~Anon.
Some questions will come across as ridiculous, but they are still important to that person, so answer compassionately according to their need. Some questions will be poorly phrased. Answer as best as you can, and ask at the end whether you addressed their question. This opens the door for them to clarify their need and have it met. ~SH
Treat the inquirer with respect and appreciation at the beginning and conclusion of the answer. ~TM
Love the people. Let Jesus love the people through you. Pray for them and that God would give you the correct words. Show them that loving Him is more than just words, loving Him is something we do with our lives in everything we have and all we have been given by Him as we live. Tell them of His power and the hope we all receive as we think about His power and His love for us. Tell of His sacrificial love for you. You will be doing this "showing" via "telling" in your own creative way as you communicate your love, and His, in the words you express to them. ~GP
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Got-Questions? | Ministry-Church | Personal-Relationships
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