Let the Book of Acts Guide You in Learning the Art of Asking Good Questions

OC workers engage in what we call short term “impact ministries” in approximately 60 countries per year. These “open doors” provide a marvelous opportunity for workers to interact with church leaders in these countries. Generally OC workers enter a country at the invitation of local church leaders and thus should have opportunities to interact with them. Taking the role of a learner, a worker can use interactions with church leaders as an opportunity to learn about: (1) the history of the church; (2) the present status of the church; (3) the leader’s vision for the future of the church; and (4) how God has workers and is at work in the country. This learning process certainly falls under the umbrella of research, which according to OC’s ministry philosophy, is foundational to all effective ministry.

One of the best ways to learn about the church and what God is doing in a country is to ask good questions. Pondering all this, it occurred to the author that the Book of Acts provides a wonderful outline of questions to ask about the growth of the Church. Since it is likely that mission workers likely have a good understanding of the Book of Acts, this knowledge can be drawn upon to guide the questions posed to local church leaders. This document, then, will outline the types of research questions that OC workers may use when interacting with local church leaders.

Let this be clear up front - a worker should not ask all of these questions at first. This would be overwhelming to the worker and the person interviewed. Also it requires time to develop trust and rapport with church leaders to the level where they will want to answer some of the more probing questions. So the worker must use discernment to use the question sets that are most applicable in the particular context.

A possible secondary effect of asking these types of questions is that local leaders may make discoveries about how God is at work in their local contexts and perhaps be challenged by the Holy Spirit to pursue a greater ministry vision, which could spark movements that “disciple a whole nation” or initiate missionary movements.

This document is suggestive in nature. By no means is every possible question raised! Rather it is a spring board to help the reader develop skills in asking effective questions. The reader is invited to participate in this conversation by adding his or her own observations and propose additional questions based on the book of Acts.

Acts 1:8 Missional Questions

    “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (NASB)
  • What do you see as the mission/vision that God has given to you? How did you become involved in the ministry?
  • What evidence do you see of the Holy Spirit at work in your ministry and in the Church?
  • What is your vision to reach this city? What are you and your church doing to reach this city?
  • What is your vision to reach this city/region/state/country?
  • What is your vision to reach minority groups in this region/state/country?
  • What is your vision to reach people groups outside of this country?

Acts 1:14 Unity and Prayer Questions

    “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with {the} women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” (NASB)
  • How do believers relate to one another?
  • Is there unity among believers?
  • Are people devoted to prayer?
  • Is there an Evangelical Alliance in the country? Are there regular meetings of pastors in the city or region? Are there gatherings for extraordinary prayer?

Acts 2:1-41 Birth of the Church Questions

  • What are the beginnings of the church here? What events led up to the start of the church?
  • Who were important apostles (missionaries), prophets (preachers), evangelists, pastors and teachers who laid the foundation of the church in this country? (Note the reference to the five-fold ministry of Ephesians 4)
  • When did this happen?
  • Where did the Gospel first take root in the country?
  • How many have believed and were baptized?
  • How was God’s hand evident in the start of the Church?

Acts 4:42-47 Church Health Questions

  • Apostles’ teaching – How knowledgeable are leaders of the apostles’ teachings? All believers? Does practice square with profession? Conduct compared to confession? How are people trained for ministry? What theological education institutions are in this area?
  • Fellowship – How do believers relate to one another? Are there tensions?
  • Breaking of Bread – What is worship like? How often do believers meet?
  • Prayer – what evidence is there of devotion to prayer?
  • Signs and Wonders – What evidence is there of God’s miraculous work?
  • What is the stewardship of believers’ possessions and finances?
  • Are there needy people in the church? How is the church involved in social ministry?
  • How does the church help needy people? What are the needs within the church?
  • Where do believers regularly meet?
  • What is the attitude of outsiders toward the church? Are they favorable or unfavorable?
  • How is the Lord adding to the number of those who believe? How any baptisms per year are there? How does this compare to the past rate of conversion? How many followers of Jesus are there in this city? State? Region? Country? When were they last counted?
  • Who are the important leaders of the Church in this city, state, region, Country? [it may be useful to get contact information]
  • What are strengths of the church? What are weaknesses?
  • What Christian ministries/organizations/missions are in the country or city? What do they focus on? Are they expatriate or national ministries?

Acts 3 Opportunity Questions

  • What are some stories of how God has worked to build His Church in this country?
  • What opportunities for ministry are now present?
  • Is there a particular segment of society that is now more open to the Gospel?
  • Is there a place where people are more open to the Gospel?

Acts 4-7 Threat Questions

  • What external threats has the church faced in the past?
  • How have these threats been overcome?
  • How did church leaders and believers answer objections to the faith?
  • What was the role of prayer in overcoming these threats? What extraordinary answers to prayer were seen?
  • How did God work in these threatening situations?
  • Are there segments of society that are more resistant to the Gospel?
  • Are there places where people are more closed to the Gospel?
  • Have believers and church leaders been arrested? Imprisoned? Put to death?
  • What significant internal problems has the church faced in the past? Are there any present consequences resulting from how these problems were addressed? What are internal problems in the church today? How are these being addressed?
  • What is the history of martyrdom in this area?

Acts 4-7 More Church Health Questions

  • 4:32ff – More questions about financial stewardship.
  • 5:1ff – How do church leaders deal with dishonesty in the church? How are sinning believers dealt with by church leaders
  • 6:1ff – What is the leadership structure of the local church?
  • How are new leaders being developed to care for expanding ministry?
  • What barriers stand in the way of continued growth of the church?
  • External barriers or factors? Internal barriers or factors?

Acts 8-12 Spread of the Gospel Questions

  • Persecution: How has persecution affected the spread of the Gospel in this area?
  • Are there cases where what people intended for evil, God has turned into good?
  • What minority groups have received the Good news? Where are they? Who took the Good news to them? When did this happen?
  • How are minority groups perceived by the majority population?
  • To what other areas have believers from this area taken the Gospel?

Acts 8-10 Dramatic Conversion Questions

  • Are there examples of extraordinary conversions? Who? What? Where? When? How? Why?

Acts 13-20 External Mission Questions

  • How did cross cultural outreach of the Church beyond this country begin? Who? What? Where? When? How? Why?
  • Who are the workers and sending churches or agents?
  • Where are the workers?
  • How are they sent out? How are they supported?
  • How is communication between workers and senders?
  • How are workers chosen and trained?
  • What contributed to the development of cross-cultural outreach?
  • How is God’s work evident in moving the church to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth?
  • How healthy are relationships between co-workers on mission teams?
  • What results are workers seeing?
  • What challenges do cross cultural workers face?
  • What missionary strategy is followed?
  • SWOT questions

Acts 15 Controversy and Contextualization Questions

  • What controversies has the Church faced in the past? Presently?
  • How have – or are - these controversies addressed?
  • What “denominational distinctives” exist? Describe them.
  • How do groups that differ on secondary theological issues or practical issues get along?
  • How has the church been contextualized? How has culture shaped the practices (and beliefs) of the church? How has the church shaped culture?

Acts 19 Movement Questions

  • Is there evidence of the rapid spread of the gospel in this region?
  • Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?
  • What factors helped the rapid spread of the Gospel? (Internal and external)
  • What factors oppose the rapid spread of the Gospel?
  • What strategy was pursued?

Bonus Section: The Epistles – Media Questions

  • What literature has influenced the Church?
  • What authors have influenced the Church?
  • Do people have access to the scriptures in their mother tongue?
  • How understandable are current translations of the scriptures by average people?
  • Are there any needs for new Bible translations?
  • What is the history of Bible translation in this country?
  • What Bible translations “have a following”? Why are some regarded as favorable and others as unfavorable?
  • What media do church leaders use to communicate with church members?
  • What is the role of radio, television, computers, the internet, digital media and mobile technologies in the 21st century Church?