Asking Questions in Visitation

IT'S AMAZING how some evangelists and pastors can say so little in their visits and in return accurately learn so much about the prospect. In trying to analyze this observation, it seems to me that one of the most powerful tools used is that of tactfully asking questions. . .

-mission evangelist in Alaska at the time this article was written

IT'S AMAZING how some evangelists and pastors can say so little in their visits and in return accurately learn so much about the prospect. In trying to analyze this observation, it seems to me that one of the most powerful tools used is that of tactfully asking questions.

One age-old principle involved in the art of asking questions in evangelistic visitation especially stands out. It is found in knowing how to ask open-end questions. When used effectively it enables the evangelistic visitor to accurately find out just where an interest is along the road toward decision.

Closed-end Questions

Perhaps an open-end question can best be defined by understanding what is meant by a closed-end question. Usually, a closed-end question demands a Yes or No answer. For example, "Mr. Jones, do you believe what the Bible teaches about the seventh-day Sabbath?" Now, in a way, Mr. Jones is in a corner. Psychologically he is put on the spot to give one of two answers, Yes or No. Here we can run into hazards. He may believe wholeheartedly almost every thing about the Sabbath, but have an unspoken hang-up on some minor point that you haven't covered yet. He may be worried about his job that requires Sabbath work or any number of other things. And because of this he may feel the Sabbath issue isn't settled enough in his mind to make a commitment. The pressure of having to give only a Yes or No answer for which he isn't ready may make him react by simply saying No!

On the other hand, the prospect, in order to please you, may say, "Yes, I believe it," when really he doesn't.

A closed-end question demands an immediate decision, rather that discussion, and under the stress of this anxiety people may become suspicious, resentful, or even hostile. Closed-end questions can bring poor answers simply because they don't bring out what a person is really thinking.

Open-end Questions

Obviously, you want to find out what's going on in the person's mind and heart so you can know how to continue working with him. Knowing how to ask open-end questions helps you to most effectively do this. This kind of question doesn't restrict the interest but lets him assume the initiative in carrying on the conversation on the subject in anyway he desires.

For example, "Mr. Jones, how do you feel about this business of the seventh-day Sabbath? I know you have given it a lot of thought; what do you think about it by now?" You have worded the question in such a way that Mr. Jones, in turn, can tell you what he is thinking and how he feels about the matter. He is free to bring out his questions. By doing this, he gives you the opportunity (knowingly or unknowingly) to learn what his hang-ups are and thus suggest directions you can take in most effectively continuing to work with him. Even the emotional overtones he ex presses can quickly give the alert inquirer fantastic insight as to where he stands. By using open-end questions, you tactfully ask a person to open his heart instead of demanding a Yes or No answer or an immediate decision he may not at the moment be ready to respond to.

Questions linked with phrases such as, "How do you feel about it?" or, "What do you think?" or, "How does it seem to you?" can be potent tools for gathering information that will enable you to work more effectively with interests.

After you have found, with open-end questioning, where the prospect is heading if he is coming along well and you know it's time for an ultimate decision then use a more direct yet positive approach, such as: "Mr. Jones, how wonderful it is to know you believe all these things and have a desire to be one of God's children. You do wish to be baptized, don't you?" Then, follow through by arranging for a specific time.


Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus
-mission evangelist in Alaska at the time this article was written

February 1974

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

A Holy, Healthy, Happy People

"IT WAS not the will of God that the coming of Christ should be thus delayed. God did not design that His people, Israel, should wander forty years in the wilderness. He promised to lead them directly to the land of Canaan, and establish them there a holy, healthy, happy people. But those to whom it was first preached, went not in 'because of unbelief.' Their hearts were filled with murmuring, rebellion, and hatred, and He could not fulfill His covenant with them. . .

Revival and That Agenda

The fourth business session of the now historic annual council of 1973 was called to order at 9:30 on the morning of October 9 by Neal C. Wilson, vice-president of the General Conference for the North American Division. But before plunging into the heavy agenda, crowded with numerous items, the chairman expressed appreciation for the morning devotional message. . .

Where Did Moses Get it?

AN INFIDEL lawyer had been told by his physician that a fatal disease had fastened itself upon him and that recovery was impossible. With death staring him in the face, the lawyer went to a friend of his, who was a Christian, and asked for instruction in the Christian religion. The friend urged him to get a Bible and to study it, patiently and sympathetically, as he would his law books. . .

God's Priorities

A QUESTION frequently asked me, especially when I am with young people, is, "What is your work? What is involved in it?" In replying to this question I usually explain about the committees and boards, the personnel problems, the financial problems, the approving and adopting of building plans, the study of administrative policies for the various fields, the days we spend on occasions studying the wage scale, and our dealings with government agencies. . .

War, Worship, and Worlds End

THE first "battle" in this world, the first shedding of human blood, was over the issue of worship. It transpired at the very gates of Eden when one brother slew the other. "And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, arid his brother's righteous" (1 John 3:12). But of more interest to us probably is the fact that the last battle of earth is also to be over the manner of worship. History begins and ends with religious conflict. . .

The Prophetic Jigsaw

MISINTERPRETATION of prophecy has plagued the Christian church from its inception. John 21:20-23 mentions that Jesus revealed to Peter a glimmering of his fate. Peter, eager to know how John also would fare, asked, "What shall this man do?" Jesus replied, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?"

The Time of the "Times of Refreshing"

"REPENT ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which be fore was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:19-21).

Confirmation

WHEN Paul wrote his first letter to the church in Corinth, he included among his words of greeting this unique expression: "The testimony of Christ was confirmed in you.". . .

The Need for Doctrinal Preaching

THERE is too much prejudice against doctrine in our day, especially against doctrinal preaching. Some hold that doctrines are too obscure, too difficult to explain to the lay mind, and that, since there are so many different opinions, such discussions and sermons result in confusion rather than knowledge. Sadly, some have gone so far as to claim it does not matter what a man believes so long as he behaves himself and attends church. . .

Pathfinders After 25 Years

I FIRST came face to face with the wonderful world of Pathfindering fifteen years ago as a young pastor located in a small community several hundred miles from the conference office, ministering to a small congregation. . .

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up

Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - IIW-VBS 2024 (160x600)