Small talk wears off pretty fast. “What’s your name?” “Where do you come from?” “What do you study?” And then we draw a blank. We tire of the freshers week questions, the same ones that rear their ugly head, only slightly adjusted to “what do you do?”, once you’ve graduated. But where do we go instead? Surely the art of conversation has more creativity than this?
We live with so many ways to communicate, like having a constant microphone or publisher at our fingertips, but our words can become cheapened, throw-away, shallow. I unthinkingly default to “what do you do?” as an opening question to a new face, when deep down I know I am passionate about people not being defined by their job or quantifiable use in the world. And yet there I go again with a question I’ve asked before really taking the time, or rather, giving the time of day to the life in front of me.
An hour later, I find myself facetiming a friend, messaging someone else and adjusting a filter on my latest flatlay simultaneously. No one is getting my full attention and I’m not really listening to anyone or anything going on, but out spill my words in one form or another. Am I ok with this?
Jesus chose his words carefully. Perhaps he knew they’d be written down meticulously and passed on for thousands of years? Perhaps he just had a foreshadowing of the internet and how nothing can ever be buried fully off a google search? Or, perhaps he was a master at asking good questions and a master at listening, really listening, because he actually saw the worth in people. Maybe he cared about speaking with the world in truth and depth and laughter and wisdom in a way that we’ve made shallow with our bitesize tweetable quotes and trendable hashtags.
In the Gospels Jesus asks many more questions than he answers. To be precise, he asks 307 questions. He is asked 183, of which he only answers 3 directly. There’s something about asking good questions that opens up the head, heart, soul in a way we often forget in our rush to speak with our own answers and ideas. Jesus shared the good news by asking rather than answering. How’s your question-asking evangelism going?
What would happen if we became the best question-asker amongst our mates? What would it be like to be known as the most attentive and present listener, in a world where the loudest voice often seems to get the most attention? How might we actually earn the respect of those we care about, through genuinely asking and listening to their stories first, not just asking something simply so we get asked back, or rather than listening, just be waiting to talk at the first pause.
I think we probably don’t have any right to tell someone the good news about Jesus if we’ve not given them any space to ask, to be seen, heard, and understood in some way too. Asking good questions and genuinely listening to others is one of the best ways of sharing our faith and introducing people to Jesus. Which is why we’re giving you a helping hand with our latest deck of cards. The DMC deck, stacked full of deeper, fuller questions that break through the ice, wades on out past the shallows of mindless small talk and into the wrestle and joy of finding out what really makes your mates tick, keeps them up at night, drives them crazy, leaves them grateful and niggles at the back of their mind. It’s a whole pack of cards covered in conversation starters, and doesn’t rely on having all watched the same TV series to get the group talking. The questions are as deep or light hearted as you make them, but once the card has been played, it gives you all the golden opportunity of not dodging the pass but actually letting people in to what’s really going on, what you really care about and builds friendships that go deeper than your last night out.
So pick up a pack today, dare to play, upgrade your questions from the default beige to the colourful and curious, and make better, more real friends for life. Start a conversation that could actually lead to life, and remember, talk less, ask more, listen well and see what Jesus does.