One of the chief tools of good teachers is the ability to ask and answer questions. The Gospels record over 100 questions Jesus asked. He also answered many questions. The disciples and the apostles asked and answered many questions. Philip asked the Ethiopian eunuch, “Do you understand what you are reading?” (Acts 8:30). Paul asked the Ephesians, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2). It is also interesting to note that Peter on the Day of Pentecost answered four questions including, “What shall we do? (Acts 2:38). In your teaching, do you ask and allow questions?
Questions can increase interest, stimulate thinking, gear instruction to the ability of the class, provide an opportunity for the expression of attitudes, introduce student experiences, emphasize main points, test the effectiveness of the instruction, and drive home a truth. Good questions have a specific purpose, are brief, understood by students, emphasize one point, require a definite answer, discourage guessing and arouse curiosity.
There are different types of questions. Contact – arouse interest and attention, Rhetorical – for effect rather than reply, Factual – seek information, Opinion – seek personal opinions, Application – lead to a personal application of truth and Faith strengthening – help people to believe.
Use the following steps in order: 1. Ask the question to the whole class. 2. Pause, allowing time to formulate an answer. 3. Call on the student in an unpredictable way. 4. Recognize the student’s answer. Even if he answers incorrectly, you should appreciate that he tried. You may then call on another student.
Consider the following additional suggestions. Don’t read your questions. Ask questions in a conversational tone of voice. To avoid questions that gender strife you may offer to discuss the question after class. Don’t allow one person to answer all the questions. Don’t be afraid of questions you cannot answer. Perhaps someone in the class can answer the question, or if the student is sincerely interested suggest possible sources for the answer. Encourage questions, for this indicates interest and readiness for instruction. Plan to ask and answer questions; you will be pleased with the results.
Arlo and Jane Moehlenpah taught Teacher Training at several Bible Colleges and seminars. Contact them at Moehlenpah@aol.com or 619-852-4979 to order their book Teaching with Variety or for them to come to your area.