With the new curriculum questions have become the most important aspect of a lesson. The Come, Follow Me program is discussion based, so the type of questions you ask are very important. However, coming up with those questions is also the most difficult part. This page is designed to help you to know how to create those deep questions. Using the Holy Spirit as a guide, along with this website, you will learn what questions you need to ask to encourage great discussion.
Asking Questions As Jesus Did
Jesus is the prime example of how and when to ask the right questions. In the bible there are endless examples of when Jesus asked a question to teach a lesson. That is exactly what we should be doing. The question is the lesson. The following is a list of 7 different kinds of questions Christ asked, which can help us know how to ask questions in our lessons.
1. Information Questions
Most questions we are asked in a lesson fall under this category. They are used much too often, and many times are the only kind of question asked. These questions usually begin with Who, What, Where, or When. Information questions can usually be answered in 1-2 words (the classic primary answers), or in a VERY short sentence. Don’t get me wrong, these questions are effective and necessary, but not when they are the only kind of question being used. Use information questions when you want to lead into a deeper question/discussion. Example:
What is one way we can become closer to our Father in Heaven? (This is an information question)
Yes, that is probably one of the best ways. What is an experience that you’ve had with prayer that helped you become closer to Heavenly Father?
Member tells their experience.
Does anyone else have an experience with prayer that they would like to share?
See how asking that deeper follow-up question led to more discussion. Jesus exemplifies using information questions in Matthew 16: 13-15.
2. Evoking Questions
These questions bring out thoughts of the heart, and probe someone to dive deeper when answering. Evoking questions are one of the most important kinds of questions to ask because they ask for testimony. Question examples:
Why? How? What do you think? Would you tell me about..? What is your opinion? Why do you think that?
What is a way you follow the Savior’s example of loving your neighbor?
Why do you think service is a way to love your neighbor? (This is an evoking question that may bring out a personal experience. If no personal experience is shared then ask another evoking question to invite testimony or experience.)
How did you personally come to know that service is a way to love your neighbor? (another evoking question)
Does anyone else have an experience they would like to share? (Leave a long pause for thought, and call on someone if the Spirit guides you.)
3. Discover Questions
These questions are used to help members discover the answer to something themselves, rather than telling them the answer. We’ve all experienced having a teacher that asks a question and then immediately answers their own question after 3 seconds of silence. No, no, no. Let the students figure it out! Our youth are so bright, and they know how to find answers, but it is our job to give them the opportunity and time to figure it out. Not answering our own question, and allowing plenty of silence, teaches that they can find answers to questions in scripture, talks, etc. It helps them find out the answer for themselves, and that is the best way to learn something. It invites the Spirit to be the teacher.
Who was it that restored the priesthood?
Well, how about we turn to the scriptures to find this out.
I want you each to find a scripture that you think best answers this question for you. You could turn to the bible dictionary, look it up on lds.org, or even use the LDS library app.
Here is a talk from Elder Holland on the restoration of the priesthood. After reading this talk I want each of you to share what stands out to you about the restoration of the priesthood.
Examples from Christ: Mark 2:24-26
4. Directing Questions
These questions can be used when you’re in a scripture, talk, or quote and the members of the class don’t understand your point. Directing questions help lead to the point you are trying to make. They can be very effective when the discussion has gone too far off topic, and can be a way to get the discussion back to the lesson without disrupting the discussion flow. Example:
(Class is talking about the godhead. One student shares an experience that leads into talking about the plan of salvation.)
How do you think the plan of salvation is related to the godhead? And how does our knowledge of the godhead and the plan of salvation go hand-in-hand?
Bad example of directing:
Turn to D&C 89:1-4. Sally will you read this?
Okay, what is this saying? (Sally has no clue what you are wanting, so she guesses what you want her to say.)
The Word of Wisdom?
Um…. Not quite what I was looking for.
Anyone else know what this scripture is saying? (The class goes silents because the teacher has devalued their answers.)
What I wanted you to get out of this was…..
Good Example of Directing:
(You are teaching about the Word of Wisdom. You ask class to read D&C 89:1-4 and then share what stood out to them.)
Silence (The passages are challenging, and they don’t want to answer out of fear of being incorrect. Maybe ask a specific person at this point.)
Sally, what jumped out to you from these verses?
I like the part in verse 3 that talks about “the weak and the weakest of all saints”. It taught me that the word of wisdom is for everyone.
Thanks. That is an excellent thought! (Ask a couple more people. And then direct them to a particular line you want them to learn about, and then ask for their thoughts. The students shared their thoughts in a welcoming environment, and they feel their answers are valued. Silence will not come as often.)
5. Rhetorical Questions
These are questions to just be thought about, and not answered. They can be a great way to end a lesson so members have something to think about that week. Example:
This week I would love for you to think about a question: What is the difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost?
6. Encouraging Questions
Encouraging questions call for a response of faith, or to help one see what can be changed or done. These must not be degrading or ask for members to share mistakes, faults, or sins that they need to change. If they feel that’s what you are asking to be shared they will not answer and could be offended. Encouraging questions should be exactly that–encouraging. Have you ever noticed in conference talks when they ask questions that make you ponder how you can change something? That is what encouraging questions should do for the class. Many times these questions are rhetorical. Examples:
How can you grow to love God more?
What is something you feel you should do this week because of this lesson?
How can you use this lesson in your life this week?
7. Call To Action Questions
These questions come right after asking an encouraging question. You have just encouraged the student to change/do something, and now you want to ask a question that will help them commit to it. This is normally at the end of the lesson, and can be the hardest part of a lesson because you want to inspire action on what they have learned. The goal is to have an impression on the members of the classroom, so much so that they act on what they have learned and “take it into their daily life”. (I am sure we have all heard that phrase in a prayer or two!) Examples:
What are you going to do about it?
What are you going to do to further study this topic?
I’m going to make a goal to be better with *blank* this week. Will you join me?
What should we do as a class this week to use what we have learned?
(I have seen teachers give members journals to write thoughts in, and many times they give the students a couple minutes at the end of class to write down what they have learned and how they will put it into action. It is a GREAT idea.)
(For more question ideas, and for more examples of how to use them, please go to the Example Study page.)
Importance of Follow-Up Questions
Follow-up questions are probably the hardest part of a discussion for the discussion leader. You can have 3 solid good questions that your lesson is based off of, but if you don’t follow up with questions to those answers your lesson will lack depth. Using the 7 types of questions above in the appropriate places is the best way to ask follow up questions. The most common type of follow-up question is an Evoking Question (i.e. Why? How? What do you think?). However, for maximum discussion experience try implementing all 7 types of questions into your lesson.
Another frustrating thing (if not the most frustrating thing) is when your class won’t talk! You’ve prepared and learned so much for your lesson and no one will answer your questions. The silence after you pose the question is killing you, so you just answer it for the class instead. No! Stop! Don’t do it! Get used to the awkward silent feeling because it needs to become your friend. Use that silence to your advantage. Sooner or later a member of the classroom won’t be able to handle it anymore, and they will answer. Of course I am not saying to sit in silence for 3 minutes before someone answers (because that means the question was unclear, too broad, or they really don’t know the answer), but I am saying to let there be a longer silence than you are used to.
Acting and Not Being Acted Upon
Some of the best classrooms I have been in start out with the teacher asking questions, and then calling on random students to answer them. This is a great way to break the ice and get those silent members to share their testimony. Many time students are just too scared to say the wrong thing, or they don’t want to be the first one to speak. However, when the members of a classroom share something then it makes it so others are more open to sharing what they think. This is vital to a good discussion. So don’t be afraid to ask the members to act by calling on them to teach something, read something, or answer a question. Elder Bednar explains this principle of acting and not being acted upon in such a clear, insightful way:
What are your thoughts about this page? Anything to add?