The Key to Asking Vulnerable Questions

Jen Bradbury
Oct 05 · 5 min read

We kicked off our fall programming this year by wrestling with the question, “Does God exist?”, a question prompted – at least in part – by the fact that some of our freshmen are adamant about their belief that God does not exist.

Part of the night involved small group discussions.

As every youth worker knows, small groups can be hit or miss.

This one was a hit that left all of my adult leaders fired up, largely because of students' honesty and vulnerability. During this particular discussion, students willingly shared with one another, seemingly without fear of being looked down upon or judged.

Since I always want to build off things that are going well, I asked leaders what contributed to students' willingness to be vulnerable.

One leader immediately responded, “Small groups got real because you assumed doubt. You didn’t ask, 'Have you ever doubted God existed?' You asked 'Tell us about a time WHEN you doubted God existed.'”

That choice was intentional.

As a researcher, I know that the way you ask a question matters. So, when I write discussion questions, I try to think through not just WHAT I'm asking but HOW I'm asking it.

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