It all Started with a Question

Our true connection started with a question. “What is your greatest desire for the church today?”

We’d already been talking for thirty minutes, give-or-take. We’d introduced ourselves and explained what we do for a living. We’d found common ground in our commitment to sharing the gospel, to the Word of God, and to our desire to see communities helped through compassion ministries. Many commonalities filled our time and conversation: our families, our faith, and our work. Our conversation remained informational, however, touching on strategy and progress.

Then I dug in. “What is your greatest desire for the church today?” I asked Christopher.

He paused and leaned back in his chair. Then he let out his breath and looked me in the eye. As he sighed and nodded almost imperceptibly, he spoke quietly, “We could do a better job at making disciples.”

Instinctively mimicking his posture and tone, I empathized with Christopher and allowed the silence to sit for a few seconds.

Thus began an entirely new direction in the conversation.

“What would you like to see happen?” I broke the silence.

“I would like to see disciplemaking become more of who we are, rather than something we do. I would like our ministry and our church to become characterized by that lifestyle. You know, currently, our team leaders train their teams, but I’m not sure how deep they go. I don’t always know what they are teaching, and some leaders are more prepared than others.”

From this point in the conversation, we shifted to Christopher’s desired outcome for his ministry. He painted a mental picture of disciplemaking that was full, rich, and multiplying throughout his neighborhood. He envisioned a future where each team member, eventually the church, and later the community were influenced by an initial disciplemaking investment in his people. We considered roadblocks, hurdles, and possibilities for progress that lay before him. His excitement was building, as evidenced by his change in posture and the quickening pace of our conversation.

In Christian scholarship, it isn’t unusual to hear, “We shouldn’t be led by our emotions. Truth and strategy should be the driving force of all we do.” I would like to modify that sentiment. Instead, I believe we should “harness” our emotions by holding them up to the standard of God’s Word. In this way, the energy of our emotions propels us forward toward the future we desire for ourselves and for God’s people, while at the same time, the Word serves as a “bit” in the harness of our progress, keeping us from grave detours.

The conversation with Christopher that day had turned from information exchange to envisioning transformation as Christopher was encouraged to dream about the future. Truly his imagination and passion for his church and neighborhood ignited both the conversation and curiosity about the way forward. He could see himself and others committing to each other in pursuit of their desired future. His enthusiasm was contagious, and soon he introduced me to another key leader in the church to further envision an impactful future.

As we encounter others in our daily lives, the greatest thing we can do for them is to listen. Imagine relationships that are driven by curiosity and the asking of questions. Imagine how relationships would be different if we were to ask instead of telling, to listen instead of sharing our own mind. How would conversation change? How would the other person change? How could you help another’s search for truth? How could you help fan the flame that is already burning inside of them?

Jesus ministered in this way. He usually answered others’ questions with another question or by giving a parable that illustrated a point.

Self-discovery. Jesus encouraged and promoted this in His followers, for He knew that questions would lead a person to recognize what God had already placed inside of them. Good things happen when our natural strengths and passions are captured and directed, then empowered by the Holy Spirit.

The conversation above was an actual ministry interaction with the name changed. Asking questions that reached below the surface ignited Christopher’s imagination for what could be, and for what he already had inside of Him as a gift of God. Suddenly, his tone changed from that of discouragement to that of anticipation. Christopher’s energy gave him momentum in pursuing godly vision. With momentum, change is suddenly possible…and it all starts with a question!

*modified from an article I wrote for Upfront Magazine with The Navigators TDC

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