Good questions prod us along toward greater effectiveness in fulfilling our calling. Here are some probing questions that I have found helpful in pastoral ministry.
1. How can I show the congregation how this passage / topic fits into the grand narrative of Scripture?
- This question reminds me to connect the dots of the Bible’s storyline, so that the people in our congregation see application in light of the great story of God’s redemption.
2. As I preach from the Old Testament, is there anything in my sermon that a faithful Jew could not affirm?
- This question reminds me to consider whether I am approaching the Old Testament from a distinctly Christian perspective. It increases my desire to show the congregation how the gospel is the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises.
3. As I preach from the New Testament, is there anything in my sermon that a Mormon could not affirm?
- This question reminds me to examine whether or not my admonitions are rooted in the gospel or in morality. It points me toward Christ as Savior, not just Christ as example and helper.
4. Am I addressing this topic or cultural issue from a distinctly Christian point of view?
- This question challenges both conservative and liberal talking points and forces me back to the gospel of grace as the message that makes Christian preaching unique.
5. What is there in me/us (preacher and congregation) that will rebel against the truth of this text and how can I move us beyond that rebellion?
- This question reminds me that God’s word must capture my heart and affections before I can properly proclaim it to the congregation. It also helps me to look for obstacles that would keep us from obedience.
6. How does the truth I am proclaiming equip Christ’s church to be on mission for the kingdom of God?
- This question helps me look past doctrine for doctrine’s sake, and causes me to focus on missional application of biblical truth.
About the Mission of the Church
7. If our church were to cease to exist, would anyone in the community be affected? Would anyone mourn the loss?
- This question challenges a view of the church that exists only for itself and its members. It forces us to ask hard questions regarding our impact as a body of believers in the world God has placed us.
8. What would the result be if everyone in our church shared the gospel as often as I do?
- This question challenges me in regards to personal evangelism. Am I asking church members to do something I myself am not doing regularly? Am I modeling evangelistic faithfulness?
9. What are the unique needs of our community that our church members could address as part of providing a platform for proclaiming the gospel?
- This question challenges me to see community engagement as an opportunity to build a platform upon which to present the gospel faithfully. It also causes me to look for the ways God has gifted individuals in our churches to faithfully represent Christ in areas of need.
10. Are the programs and activities of our church the best way to spend our time, money, and energy to spread the gospel locally and globally?
- This question challenges us to look at our programs and ask difficult questions related to our church’s mission. We shouldn’t be satisfied with relying on the good things we do if those good things do not aid us in fulfilling our primary calling: to fulfill the Great Commission.
11. Am I focused primarily on training people to bring the lost to church where I will present the gospel? Or am I focused on equipping people to share the gospel throughout the week in their workplace, neighborhood, and schools?
- This question challenges us to see evangelism as a life-long exercise, and not merely an event-driven practice done by professionals.
What about you? What questions do you ask yourself regularly as you seek to faithfully fulfill your calling?