Thursday, November 5, 2009

Open Ended Questions

I hate closed ended questions. Yes, I said it. Now, let me admit, I am guilty of asking lots of closed ended questions, but I hate it when others do the same to me! I'm going to pick a hot topic, like homosexuality, here because it helps prove my point well about close ended questions. Recently, I was wathcing a video from a veteran youth pastor, Andrew Marin. In the video he does the same.

Let's start with some examples of closed ended questions. It's like these: is homosexuality a sin? can someone change? are persons born "that way? can you be gay and a Christian? are homosexuals going to hell? These questions seem to elicit a one word answer and not much more. Yes or No.

Marin points out that the problem with open ended questions is two fold! First the asker of the question likley already has an answer in mind. Secondly, the asker is probably trying to figure our "which team" or side of the opinion you are on.

We have a great model from Jesus for dealing with close ended questions. As Christians that's what our model should be right? I mean how many Christians do you know that would say ... "nah ... I don't want to be like Jesus."

Marin points out that in the three years of Jesus' public ministry, he was aksed closed ended questions approximately 25 times. Of those 25, 15 of the questions came form His enemies, like the Pharisees, Saducees, Jews, or high priests. 10 of those times, the questions came from his friends, like John the Baptist, the disciples, and the woman at the well. Amazingly, Jesus only answered yes or no 3 times. And of those three times, they were ALL after He was on trial and had been beaten and His death on the cross was approaching.

So, what would Jesus do? What is the model we have for approaching closed ended questions? Don't answer yes or no. Move the conversation to a new and fresh approach. Try this ... catch the asker of the question off gaurd by answering with an open ended question.

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