Good questions prod us along toward greater effectiveness in fulfilling our calling. Here are some probing questions that I have found helpful in pastoral ministry.

About Preaching

1. How can I show the congregation how this passage / topic fits into the grand narrative of Scripture?

  • This question reminds me to connect the dots of the Bible’s storyline, so that the people in our congregation see application in light of the great story of God’s redemption.

2. As I preach from the Old Testament, is there anything in my sermon that a faithful Jew could not affirm?

  • This question reminds me to consider whether I am approaching the Old Testament from a distinctly Christian perspective. It increases my desire to show the congregation how the gospel is the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises.

3. As I preach from the New Testament, is there anything in my sermon that a Mormon could not affirm?

  • This question reminds me to examine whether or not my admonitions are rooted in the gospel or in morality. It points me toward Christ as Savior, not just Christ as example and helper.

4. Am I addressing this topic or cultural issue from a distinctly Christian point of view?

  • This question challenges both conservative and liberal talking points and forces me back to the gospel of grace as the message that makes Christian preaching unique.

5. What is there in me/us (preacher and congregation) that will rebel against the truth of this text and how can I  move us beyond that rebellion?

  • This question reminds me that God’s word must capture my heart and affections before I can properly proclaim it to the congregation. It also helps me to look for obstacles that would keep us from obedience.

6. How does the truth I am proclaiming equip Christ’s church to be on mission for the kingdom of God?

  • This question helps me look past doctrine for doctrine’s sake, and causes me to focus on missional application of biblical truth.

About the Mission of the Church

7. If our church were to cease to exist, would anyone in the community be affected? Would anyone mourn the loss?

  • This question challenges a view of the church that exists only for itself and its members. It forces us to ask hard questions regarding our impact as a body of believers in the world God has placed us.

8. What would the result be if everyone in our church shared the gospel as often as I do?

  • This question challenges me in regards to personal evangelism. Am I asking church members to do something I myself am not doing regularly? Am I modeling evangelistic faithfulness?

9. What are the unique needs of our community that our church members could address as part of providing a platform for proclaiming the gospel?

  • This question challenges me to see community engagement as an opportunity to build a platform upon which to present the gospel faithfully. It also causes me to look for the ways God has gifted individuals in our churches to faithfully represent Christ in areas of need.

10. Are the programs and activities of our church the best way to spend our time, money, and energy to spread the gospel locally and globally?

  • This question challenges us to look at our programs and ask difficult questions related to our church’s mission. We shouldn’t be satisfied with relying on the good things we do if those good things do not aid us in fulfilling our primary calling: to fulfill the Great Commission.

11. Am I focused primarily on training people to bring the lost to church where I will present the gospel? Or am I focused on equipping people to share the gospel throughout the week in their workplace, neighborhood, and schools?

  • This question challenges us to see evangelism as a life-long exercise, and not merely an event-driven practice done by professionals.

What about you? What questions do you ask yourself regularly as you seek to faithfully fulfill your calling?

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    15 thoughts on “11 Questions Every Pastor Should Ask”

    1. Very probing Trevin, but helpful. Thanks for posting them.

    2. Dave says:

      These questions aren’t just for pastors. They are for every Christian regardless of what ministry they are involved in (and if they aren’t, they should be asking the question “Why not?”)

      My current ministry is as a Bible study leader. I ask many of the “preaching” questions to myself each and every week when I’m preparing. Instead of asking myself what to tell the congregation to give them the sense of the author’s intent I ask myself what questions I should ask the group which will make them lead themselves there.

      Question 7 is so very challenging. So often a church (and myself) is content to be another social club in the community.

    3. Arthur Sido says:

      Some interesting questions. I thought of a few more that perhaps pastors should be asking themselves.

      Before you examine the content of your sermon, perhaps ask yourself if a monologue sermon has precedence in the Scriptures and if it is an effective method of equipping and discipleship.

      Is the office of pastor as we traditionally understand it a faithful living out of the role of servant-leaders we see in Scripture?

      If there was a financial crisis in my local church and they could no longer financially support me, would I stay and keep ministering here or move somewhere else that could support me financially?

      Is our local church primarily focused on sustaining that institution or in making disciples?

      I am sure there are lots of other questions that could be asked and I think asking these sorts of questions are vital as the comfortable world of cultural religion in the West fades away and we face the reality of ministering in a world that is very different from what we have experienced for most of our lifetimes.

    4. Matt says:

      Wow. Great questions. I especially love #7. I think a lot of churches could disappear without notice. That said, I do think there is movement past that now. Really good stuff. Thanks for sharing.

    5. Tracy Irvin says:

      Thanks Trevin,
      Dr. Donald Whitney got me started keeping a list of questions. The list comsist of questions about different aspects of personal life and ministry. I will add these to them.

    6. brian bel says:

      The question I ask of myself and my church is with regard to how Matthew 25:31-46 is exemplified through us. I seems that you and I define the “mission” of the church differently. In your questions under the Mission of the Church heading, all but one of the questions mention “sharing the gospel,” “spreading the gospel,” “proclaiming the gospel,” or “presenting the gospel.” My background isn’t one coming from a “preaching church” background, so it seems a glaring ommission to not include feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the poor, etc. One should proclaim, share, and spread the gospel, but surely the gospel should be lived, and the only way I know to live it is in serving others. Remember, charity is NOT first and foremost something we do or give, but rather, it’s a disposition of the will. A charitable heart is a gift of grace, and good deeds must flow from that.

    7. Steve Martin says:

      Is what I am saying, something that could be told to someone on their death bed?

      I mean, I would hardly tell someone about to die how they can become a better Christian, or give them 10 biblical principles for a holier life.

      I’d tell them that the Lord forgives all their sin and will welcome them into His open arms.

    8. Pastor Joseph Wilson, Sr. says:

      I enjoyed reading all of the comments posted. Question #7 is probably the most thought provoking, which causes me to take a closer look at our ministry. I am going to share these questions with the leadership of our church and see if we can do better in what God would have us to do. Thank you!

    9. patriciazell says:

      I would add a couple of questions, “Will what I share motivate my listeners to go to their prayer closets and seek God with everything they have? Will it help them cleave to God because He is our life?”

    10. William Floyd says:

      I think other questions should be:

      -Am I holding other people back in their callings?
      -Are there other people in the assmebly whom God has called to preach or teach, as well?
      -Am I a leader or a ruler?
      -Do people simply respect me or revere me?
      -Is the Holy Spirit really leading our assemblies or is it our itinerary which dictates the flow?

    11. Great questions – some of them difficult. At the very least intensely thought-provoking. I’ll be using periodically for a good refresher!

    12. Thanks Trevin. I’m going to use this as I write my sermon on Joshua 1:1-11, right now!

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    ​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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