Term 2 2016 session 2; How to answer tricky questions.
In all things remember; every question represents an opportunity to connect. (Which is what people are really looking for.)
So I want to break up the ‘how to’ into the 3 areas of our being involved in answering a ‘curly one’ well. They are Physical/verbal, Mental Spiritual. Afterwards we’re going to have a bit of fun doing some role-playing and pulling some rippers out of the hat to see how much we’ve learned.
- Physical/verbal. (What is my body/mouth doing?)
People look for truth in our body language and tone. Moreover, before they’re listening to your answer, they’re looking for it.
There is a way of saying precisely the same answer to a tough question (eg: “because we all live in a fallen world.”) in two completely different ways. One sounds like the questioner is the biggest inconvenience to you in the world. The other sounds like a statement of empathy.
Also, like when you have someone confess to you, you have to be visually and verbally devoid of shock, otherwise they’ll pick up on the vibes. Same here. If someone stumps you and you know it (don’t clap your hands!)……and you’re having an internal freak-out moment, don’t let it become external. You’ll probably lose any future audience with them. You don’t need to stare them in the face either, but just be aware of the little things. Don’t look at the ground when you think, (that means you’re making rubbish up) look up. (That means you’re trying to find the answer.) Keep the tone of your voice relaxed, especially if you’re forced to say this next bit:
“I don’t know, but I’ll get back to you/can we explore that together?”
Don’t be scared to say it. But if you say you’ll get back them, actually get back to them! (how annoying is it when people don’t get back to you?) My suggestion however, is tied up in the second part: “can we explore this together?” I can’t imagine a better wat to not only get buy a few days to further research and answer but also to encourage ongoing discussion than offering the greatest currency of all, time. Time to meet. This speaks volumes and we always need to remember; love is its own apologetic.
Get into the Word. Romans 12:2 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is– his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Our primary role is not to give the right answer for the person but the correct answer according to God’s word. On the other hand, we’re not here to win and argument but win a soul. Thus we need to know the Word. Moreover, knowing it is not merely being able to quote it, but knowing God’s word the way it wants to be known.
What the?!?! Let me explain. Don’t use it like a rule book. It’s not. It of course contains rules but they are in the context of a story. Therefore, memorize the gospel framework. You can answer any question on any topic biblically using this framework. Really.
There’s your bible in four words and in that order. To Paraphrase: How stuff was meant to be, How it got screwed up, What Jesus did about it, what it’ll be like with God/in heaven.
Of course the above isn’t going to work without knowing the contents. There’s no magic button for this, it’s about turning off the telly (or whatever) and getting into the Word. Here’s some handy hints to get the knowledge of God into your head:
- Allow space for your own questions, take them straight to God.
- Get a mentor
- Mentor someone else.
- Stop (or at least compliment) reading devotions and challenge yourself to write your own.
- Ask questions in your bible study.
- Elevate it above all other thoughts and opinions.
It takes a while, but there’s no other way of saying it, the better we know the Word (and of course God) the more our mind can deal with tricky questions.
If we do a bit of old-school theology and take the doctrine of total-depravity seriously, then we’ll be greatly encouraged by the truth. That is this; They would not even be asking spiritual questions if the Spirit was not working in their lives. Moreover, here’s the corollary; If it’s true that God is working in their lives then it’s also true that he’s lead them to ‘me’ and thus God must believe that through him, I am capable of ministering to this person. That’s worth thinking about….for a long time. You may be the next step on their journey.
See, when we overestimate ourselves and underestimate God we freak out. But when we flip the order around the right way, we don’t find things threatening because we’d be precisely aware or our complete inability to do things. This frees us to realize that even our smallest successes were/are all because of him anyway. One mark of biblical humility is how calm we are when faced with something beyond our ability. So, fill your thoughts with God’s power and his adequacy.
David kills Goliath thru humility. Not thinking of himself, he’s preoccupied with God’s power.
Last of all: God blesses honesty. That’s why the admission that you don’t know can be so powerful. Be honest. Even if you’re still figuring something out yourself. Thoughts?
Get into pairs, One person ask the trickiest spiritual question they have actually been asked. The other person try your best to answer it calmly and using the gospel framework.