Using questions to unleash transformation

By Rachel Johnson, Nikki Nettleton

The power of questions forges the church and believers into a mission sending force.

Recently, I (Nikki) was invited to work with a group of leaders in Africa who are developing mission sending structures. They were curious to know how Global Partners organizes efforts to send and support missionaries so they could implement something similar in their context. The door was wide open for me to share my experiences and what I knew about Global Partners' current processes. But the Holy Spirit prompted me that these gifted leaders did not need answers from me. The answers were already inside them!

The best way I could bless and serve them was to ask good questions, ones that would draw the discernment God had given them to the surface where they could own and act on it with confidence and clarity. So I started asking questions about the men and women they were hoping to mobilize and impact. What do they need? What is unique about their context? What is the change they hope to see?

The leaders engaged with enthusiasm. As they grappled with the questions, they began to see the clear path God was revealing for them to change from being a missionary receiving field to becoming a mission sending force.

When we ask questions of others, we invite them

to shape the solutions and own the applications.

Questions have the power to unleash kingdom transformation. Why is that?

Questions invite discovery. They cause us to think. When we ask ourselves questions, we permit our brains to think outside the box to see fresh perspectives. When we ask questions of others, we invite them to shape the solutions and own the applications. Questions help people tap into their own stories as both valuable sources of insight as well as the context for continued growth. Asking questions can help move others toward desired change with greater empathy, creativity, clarity and confidence.

We have grown to appreciate using questions as powerful tools for disciple-making and the basis for guiding change. The Framework for Transformation is a simple guide designed to aid a process for implementing meaningful change. This guide can be used to facilitate growth in a disciple or developing leader, challenge people to think in new ways or redesign processes that add value to others. The four edges of the Framework for Transformation help us get a clearer picture of the way forward.


Transformation begins in the hearts and minds of people. Before thinking about the gems of wisdom we want to impart, we need to ask, who is the audience? What is their starting point in relation to the topic? What strengths do they bring? What are their contextual realities? What are their needs and attitudes?

Taking time to consider the people questions can help us grow in empathy, challenge our assumptions and give us a clear picture of who we are aligning with for a change.

Positive Change

This part of the framework aims to describe the change we want to see and why in one or two sentences. What is the big picture or overall purpose? How do we hope people will believe or behave differently after our conversation, lesson, process?

Maybe the change is that our members will have an online platform where they can create and share resources so people feel connected and everyone benefits from shared learning. Another example might be that the person we are discipling understands and embraces their identity in Christ. Thinking about the positive change we want to see gives us a clear direction in which to head.



The parameters questions help us consider the practical context in which the change will happen. For example, when and where will this take place? How many minutes, hours, days do we have? Who will be involved in the process? Some of these parameters are set by us and some are set for us.

We want to consider the parameters questions remembering what we have already discovered about the people and the positive change we want to see. This is where we see an interplay between the parts of the framework. We might realize that we are trying to fit too much into a small amount of time or that we need to adjust our goal or expand our parameters.


The path questions help us discover what needs to happen during the journey toward transformation. What actions are most likely to lead to the change we want to see for this group of people within the set parameters? What experiences will develop the attitudes and skills that lead to change? What ideas need to be understood? How will people engage, practice and reflect?

For example, launching a new process might involve helping people understand the purpose, what features it offers, how it can help them, making sure they know how to use it, and have had the opportunity to practice navigating it. In a discipling context, the path questions might help us realize that to understand and embrace their identity in Christ, the person we are working with needs to know what Scripture has to say on the topic. We could invite them to engage by memorizing Scripture and keeping a journal of new insights and obedience steps.

Asking questions can help move others toward desired change

with greater empathy, creativity, clarity and confidence.

Jesus, the master question asker

If anyone ever understood the power of questions, it was Jesus. According to Martin Copenhaver, Jesus asked 307 questions in the Bible. However, of the 183 questions that others asked him, he only directly answered three. Consider some of the powerful questions our Lord asked:


Asking questions can lead to kingdom transformation. What questions will you ask to unleash positive change in the people and places God has entrusted you to influence?

*These questions were adapted from Martin Copenhaver’s “Jesus Is the Question: The 307 Questions Jesus Asked and the 3 He Answered,” published by Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN.