For example, Jillian was in a difficult season of her life. Every week, her prayer request seemed to be the same as before. She would simply say, "Please pray for me at work. I have a lot of stress." Her leaders recognized that Jillian was keeping things on the surface level. So they asked great follow-up questions. "What is the source of your stress?" This opened a door for Jillian to provide more details. Then she simply said, "Pray for me." Her leaders then asked, "How would you like us to pray?" By asking those simple follow-up questions, Jillian was able to open up more with her group. Her eyes were also opened to the source of her stress and she included the group in praying for specific things.
Here are some tips to help you begin asking great follow-up questions:
- Request an explanation for an answer. This will help provide more details and background for a given answer.
- Ask open questions and avoid closed questions. An open question requires more details, while a closed question simply requires a "yes or no" answer.
a. Open question: What is your method of getting to work?
b. Closed question: Do you drive to work?
- Practice makes perfect. Find a friend or family member to practice on. Simply ask them a question and go from there. Remember that follow-up questions provide more details.
- Create the expectation for your group's discussion. Once you use follow-up questions with your group, they will catch on quickly. Soon they will learn that it is important to provide details to their answers and prayer requests. Eventually, you will ask fewer follow-up questions because your group will begin giving more details beforehand!
Seth Widner is Family Pastor of The Journey Church in Fernandia Beach, Florida.
—Copyright 2010 by the author and Christianity Today. Used with permission.