CHURCH & MINISTRY
Advice for Answering Questions from GotQuestions Writers, Part 1
Answering Questions: The Series
GotQuestions.org, our parent ministry, is dedicated to answering spiritual and personal questions with a biblical worldview. To that end, we have a website (GotQuestions.org), which contains thousands of articles on everything from transubstantiation to whether a a Christian should see a chiropractor. If we don't have an article, we have several hundred volunteer writers who answer questions that come in through our online form. Writers range from a 90-something former missionary to Muslims to twin college students who know their stuff but write as if they live in Ye Olde England. Many Blogos writers, including Jim Allen, Beth Hyduke, Denise Baum, Tim White, Steve Webb, Laurel Davis, and Christopher — both Schwinger and Plumberg — are also GotQuestions writers. Jeff Laird started by answering questions. Then he added writing Blogos articles and then was hired as our editor for BibleRef.com.
We recently asked our writers for advice on how to best answer questions. They had a lot to say about relating to the questioner and how to prepare yourself to give a good answer, which will be covered in the coming weeks. Here's what they said about leading the questioner to the true Source of all answers:
Amid the spiritual battles that rage against us, the Bible compares itself to a razor-sharp sword. No one was ever born an expert in swordsmanship; it is a skill that requires a lot of training and practice to develop, and constant work to maintain and hone. Similarly, the more we study and reflect on God's Word, the more familiar we become with it, and the more skillful, practiced, and effective we will be wielding it as we cut to the heart of internal and external spiritual questions. God always and fully endorses His own Word; He does not promise to underwrite human efforts, good intentions, or well-meant words. So unless you're David, don't bring rocks to a swordfight. Bring a razor-sharp sword, and know how to use it. Scriptural preparedness is key to addressing any spiritual question victoriously. ~BH.
Faith can't be transmitted to others just by intellectual arguments or emotional appeals. It involves a deep element of individual choice, and all we can do is give others good influences, such as reasons to believe or explaining how God freed us. When helping people with their questions and struggles, it is important to emphasize the sufferings of Christ to give them a proper perspective, and also remind them that God's life is for us now, not just after we die. We also don't have to feel God to know we are of the same spirit as God. We need to emphasize all these things to others, while also pursuing a deeper knowledge of the Bible on our own so we'll be prepared for their questions. ~CS
Remember that nothing, nothing, nothing, (absolutely) nothing is more important than eternity. One kind word, prayerful answer, or shared Scripture can impact the eternity, not only of the person you are responding to, but the people they will minister to when they are where God wants them to be. Also, just as important, remember that any negative effect on their eternity will be just as impacting, though not for good. ~BF
The best way to provide the best help possible to people with spiritual questions is to utilize Scripture-based responses to said questions. Let the Bible speak for itself. You can also provide information gathered from Bible commentaries to support your answer. Refer back to the content and context of the Scriptures used, explaining how they relate to the question asked. It is also helpful to show the questioners the grammar and meaning of the original languages (whether Hebrew or Greek), because keeping our responses completely biblically-based will provide much more accurate answers. ~BC
Handle it like Jesus did: in a parable-like manner. Start at a place they're familiar with and gradually bring them to the great spiritual significance of their inquiry. Along the way, it's crucial to define the unfamiliar in ways that the questioner is familiar. This approach lets the Word of God and the Holy Spirit steer the dialogue. ~RF
We must be Gospel-centered in our answers. The cross of Christ is the ultimate end towards which every answer must lead. Whether dealing with an unbelieving skeptic, a young believer, or a mature follower of Jesus, the good news of a wrath-averting, sin-expiating, righteousness-imputing, and death-defeating Savior is always the final answer to anyone's spiritual problems. ~BW
God is the source of understanding. We need to remove the wrong philosophy from our minds that other people are the source of understanding. Too often we automatically look to other people: the pastor, Sunday school teacher, seminary professor, or another educated person or book to give us understanding. God can use other people in giving us understanding, but He is the source. Understanding is a gift from God. It is not something that we conjure within ourselves. ~PT
Be willing to acknowledge that the Bible doesn't directly address every single spiritual question a person may have. Don't answer beyond what the Bible says to be true. Don't be afraid to admit when you don't know the answer, but try to refer them to someone who might know. Or give yourself a day or two to find the answer and get back to them. First try to understand their question fully. Sometimes when a person attempts to answer a question without fully understanding what is being asked, the answerer interjects their own point of view or interpretation and completely misunderstands the initial question. ~SVB
If there are two sides to the issue, briefly cover both with biblical references, and give an explanation why you believe the side you believe. Always take the time to read any passages referenced by the person and the surrounding verses (several times if necessary), as well as checking other Bible versions. Pray always. Pray the Holy Spirit will guide your answer, and that He would open the understanding of the person when they receive it. ~JF
Most people ask questions out of deep hurt or concern, longing for God to reveal Himself in their circumstances. Everyone is looking for hope. If they see hope manifested in another individual, they will want it too. Gently and respectfully, Christians can respond (1 Peter 3:15). Hope is "an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 6:19). "To hope" means to look forward expectantly to God's future activity. Our answers should provide hope, cultivating faith in God's unchanging character. ~DK
We pray our writers can inspire you as you speak with friends and family who may have questions about your faith.
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Got-Questions? | Ministry-Church | Personal-Relationships
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