Are you using questions to communicate?

Jodie McNeill

I wonder if the ABC is surprised by the success of its talk show 'Q&A', where a panel of expert guests face the questions of the assembled crowd and those connected by social networks?
It may be that the program works due to the quality of the panellists, but it is more likely that the ability to respond to the real-time interrogation of the viewers is the real winning ingredient.
Adults enjoy the ability (and the privilege) of questioning political, religious and industry leaders in order to find the truth behind a facade, or to further resolve tensions or issues they may have been facing.
Youth, too, love asking questions. In fact, due to the sometimes complex (and often painful) process of transitioning from childhood to adulthood, youth love to question almost everything.
This is certainly true of their beliefs about God and themselves.
Adolescent development experts tell us that the process of becoming an adult involves a step called 'individuation', where a child becomes an adult in their own right, as they learn to detach from their parents and stand on their own two feet (in every sense).
This process doesn't happen overnight. It is often a drawn-out process that is usually accompanied by teenagers who just keep asking "why?"
The question and answer format works well for adults. It works really well for teenagers. Yet, we preachers (whether to adults or youth) continue to be strangely drawn to the monologue.
Sometimes it due to insecurities. A full-text manuscript gives the speaker the safety net of prepared and packaged information, and comfort from possible embarrassment.
Sometimes it's due to a legitimate fear of losing the punch of a great conclusion to a talk, especially if the question time falls straight after a carefully-crafted sermon.
Sometimes it's because we fear having our questions set the agenda, rather than the word of God.
All of these concerns are, to some extent, warranted. Yet, each of them is able to be mitigated in some way in order to enable this excellent form of communication to be used.
What's more, if this is the way that youth (and often adults) learn, then why would we choose to miss out on the benefits of this powerful way of speaking the truth?
Is Jodie McNeill the Executive Director of Youthworks Outdoors?

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