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How can you help missionaries value getting asked questions? by Michael Essenburg

Jul 26th, 2009 | By | Category: Missions Coaching - Guest Posts

michael-120x100Missionaries want to proclaim the good news of Jesus. So, they do evangelism, baptize and disciple believers, and preach during worship services. God uses these activities to build His kingdom. These activities tend to flow from an advice-giving paradigm, rather than a question-asking paradigm.

Implications: Missionaries have more experience with giving advice than with asking questions. And missionaries value getting advice than more than getting asked questions—which is one reason they don’t pursue getting coaching.

Question: How can you help missionaries value getting asked questions?

My answer: I’m publishing sets of coaching questions in a quarterly magazine (Japan Harvest) that missionaries I know read. I’m encouraging missions to publish short articles on asking questions. Here’s an example.

Ask questions to help those around you to focus, think through problems, and reach their goals. For example:

  • If your co-worker wants to more effectively disciple others, ask: How do you disciple people now? What’s causing you to want to improve? What’s “more effective discipleship” look like? What can you do?
  • If your team is planning an event, ask: What do we want to see happen? What will help this go well? Who’s going to do what?
  • If a pastor is dealing with conflict, ask: What happened? How do you feel? How does the other person see the situation? How can you demonstrate Christ’s love?
  • If a small group leader wants to help her participants be more engaged, ask: If your participants got more engaged, what might happen? What helps your participants get engaged? When are your participants not engaged? What can you do?

Question: What strategies have you found useful in helping missionaries value getting asked questions?

Michael Essenburg, a missionary with Christian Reformed World MIssions, uses coaching to empower Christian leaders and organizations to close the gap. Michael has served in Japan for over 20 years. To learn more, please visit
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