When I was first exposed to Q & A in a church service, it was via Tim Keller explaining how he used his time after preaching to gather with those who had inquiries. If I remember correctly, he would meet in a designated place in the auditorium and tackle on-the-spot questions from anyone who wished to stay and interact.
As I digested his personal testimony regarding this, I became convinced that finding a way to incorporate live Q & A into our service/my message would be a worthwhile endeavor, not only for me, but for our members/attenders and guests as well. Now that I’m 8+ years into utilizing live Q & A, I can assuredly testify that it is exponentially more than a worthwhile endeavor. Admittedly, there has been some trial and error in finding the best way to facilitate it for our specific environment (that’s another post), but the benefits of live Q & A have surpassed anything I expected.
But why? While I’ll provide at least three secondary reasons a pastor should give serious consideration to finding an avenue for Q & A in his message or service, there’s really just one primary reason I think live Q & A is a “must do” for pastors who preach regularly.
Secondarily and succinctly, live Q & A enables you to:
- Continue the impact of God’s Word in an even more personal manner. Whether you answer a texted-in question directly with a return text, respond via an email, verbally address it from the pulpit, or provide some help through your blog, you are going beyond just the prepared sermon and helping a specific person with a specific question. You may or may not know who it is, but the one who asked the question knows. And it is personal to them. It’s good when our preaching gets personal in the right way, and Q & A provides a platform for this.
- Gain insight into areas of practical application that your members may be dealing with. Live Q and A exposes us to issues and areas that people are struggling with that you simply didn’t think of in your preparation. You’ll hear from people from walks of life very different than yours, and no doubt God will use this to grow you in your understanding of people. For a shepherd feeding sheep, that’s invaluable insight!
- Clarify and correct yourself in the case of misunderstandings. All of us who preach regularly misspeak. Albeit unintentionally, but it still happens. And usually more than we want to admit. We accidentally say something incorrect, misquote a reference, or get our words mixed up. And sometimes we don’t even know it. Fortunately, live Q & A affords you the opportunity to hear of these and humbly backtrack in order to clarify and/or correct.
But most importantly, live Q & A enables you to (drum roll please) …
- Know what they’re hearing, not just what you’re saying. Nothing gives me a window into what our people are actually hearing me say better than live Q & A. Sometimes the question will begin with “But what about…” or “Are you saying…” Other times it will start with “Does this mean…” I have found that live questions show me just what people are actually hearing on the spot and how what I’m trying to communicate is being heard right then and there. Frankly, this is one of the most valuable items a preacher can possess—real-time “data” on how effective he actually is.
In fact, just last week I received a question that provided substantial and on-the-spot insight that showed me how, when I emphasized one aspect of my subject/text, I unintentionally communicated something I wasn’t even aware of. (You can see that in this post under question 2.) I would never have even known that perception was lingering out there had it not been for the question. Thankfully, they felt free to ask, and in asking, both they and I are better for it.
I don’t know a single preaching pastor who doesn’t want to preach better. If they don’t, they shouldn’t be one. Rightfully, all of us desire deeply to do this thing called preaching more effectively. And live Q & A has been one of the best tools God has used to accomplish this in an on-going fashion in my life.
What do you think? What’s been your experience with live Q & A, whether as a preacher or hearer? Agree? Disagree? Feel free to share; you can even ask a question!