Getting To Know You?

Questions are a good tool for getting to know others. Or at least, they should be.

But sometimes the things we ask can keep others at a distance, instead of inviting them in.

They can reveal more about us and what we value, than the people we’re talking with.


I’m at a wedding and sitting next to a Christian I have never met. I don’t ask: ‘what’s been inspiring you recently or what do you love most about Jesus?’ I ask:

‘What’s your church like?’ and ‘how’s the band?’

Subtext: How many people go to your services? Rate ‘the worship’. And do you serve real – or instant coffee ?

The coffee question is an important one. But the others – er, not so much.  They say a lot – but not about church. About me and what I think matters. Whether or not your pastor can tell jokes. What makes church a ‘success’ or a ‘failure’. And it’s a hop, skip and a jump to moaning about what’s wrong with The Church. Or, at a pinch, the relative merits of Java versus American Ground.

Perhaps I’m being too harsh.  How about with friends? Surely in small groups we’ll ask each other how we’re really doing.  Big things.


How’s your quiet time going?

Have you set up a porn filter on your computer?

Are you in an accountability group?

Where are you serving?


And, if all else fails…


Which Bible reading plan are you using?


Every box ticked.  Spiritual discipline. Accountability. Service. Altogether now – that’s what I call friendship.

Except… it’s really not.

Even when I get and give the right answers to these questions, I’m still hungry.  Hungry to know and be known in return. Hungry to connect, to engage and to share.

These things can be good parts of the Christian life. They’re not bad questions. But they’re not Christianity. It’s not a series of rules or boxes to be ticked.  It’s Christ in us and in others. It’s sharing life as well as the gospel.

Surface engagement seems safe – but it’s a shadow of the real thing.


So, here’s some starters. ..


What is the one thing about yourself that you would like me to know?

Who do you love and how do you show it?

What makes you angry?

What would make life unbearable if it was taken away?

What event in the past would you undo and how?

What would you do if money was no object?

What is God teaching you right now?

What makes you worthwhile?

What’s the one thing you really don’t want to do? How and when will you do it?

Whose opinion matters most to you?

How do you measure success?

What can’t you stop?  Why not?

What do you tell your friends that you need to learn yourself?

What is unforgivable?

How are you misunderstood?

What do you daydream about?

What have you learned from your parents?

What question would you most like to ask God?

How would you describe Jesus in 90 seconds?

Where do you feel safe?

What questions are missing from this list?

13 thoughts on “Getting To Know You?

  1. What’s really interesting about this piece is I’ve never asked any of these questions to anyone in my life. I’ve recently joined a new church, and in the conversations with those I’m getting to know we’ve discussed work, art, music, culture in general, current affairs, the dynamics of faith, the nature of spirituality and, above all else, the significance of God’s amazing grace and the impact (on everything) of the redemptive work of God in Creation through Christ. It’s in our finding of Christ at the centre of all of life, no matter how hard or comparatively ‘easy’ the current ‘going’ may be, that truly counts, and when that’s occurring, it’s none to hard to talk to someone. Surely, doing otherwise is to fall into a ‘religion’ steel trap.

  2. Yes, finding Christ at the centre of life and sharing Him is the very opposite of religion – and the heart of fellowship. Sometimes though, talking about the ‘going’ can be a way in to doing this – or a way of working it out in practice.

  3. What’s equally interesting is that when I attended ‘shepherding’ churches (both of the Charismatic and Reformed ilk) in the late 80’s and early 90’s, THESE were the kind of questions that really mattered to people. It’s a focus on imperatives rather than indicatives, when the Gospel is first and foremost a call to the PROMISES of God in Christ:–kec

  4. You’re right: most of my questions are self rather than Christ-focused. Back to the drawing board…

  5. There’s a line from the Dark Knight by Batman that has been buzzing around my head ever since seeing all three movies last weekend:
    “I can be whatever Gotham needs me to be”. That is the well-spring, the dynamo, of life for us – the Christ who truly is all in all. I crave fellowship that puts us in full view of the rich beauty and endearing wonder of that – too much of ‘church’ fellowship can major in minors when we miss that.

  6. Totally being challenged by this recently, just moved back home and getting to know people on sundays has been something of a challenge, how can we get beyond the weather or work??!! and to challenging our hearts and trusting Christ….. still working on it!!!!

  7. What questions are missing from this list?

    How is it that when we look back at the week, and realize that however ‘good’ our best was, it was totally unravelled by what’s still essentially ‘us’, and yet, here we find ourselves, forgiven and free in the wonder of Jesus Christ’s work and mercy, and that this will still be the case next week, next year, a decade for now, and forever – isn’t that truly amazing, and how can we spend a little more of our lives expressing this?

  8. Hi B – I’m working on it too! . With believers, a great q is asking how they came to faith or what their favourite Bible story is. But (as I’m learning) don’t ask anything you can’t answer yourself..

  9. Oh my. I LOVE this list of questions.
    I find that, like you, I thirst for real interaction. Possibly because I want people to see the real me and still value me. So much of what we talk about seems surface.

    I don’t think it’s a bad thing that many of the questions are about you, rather than Jesus. I think in knowing people and who they are and what they value, and revealing ourselves to others, it becomes possible to do life together and the gospel to speak into that. If we never let our guard down, the gospel will only get in as far as our guard. First be brave enough to be honest with each other, and let Christ speak into that relationship from a position of safety and trust,

    I dunno, that’s where I’ve seen the most fruit, anyway.

    It has made me think of a Bile study I have done recently with a friend – the first ‘Bible study’ I have done for over 2 years. It was food for my soul – real, honest interaction, and God speaking to us both. It was awesome,

    She’s moving away. I kind of wish I had more friendships like that. I wonder why we don’t.

  10. ‘If we never let our guard down, the gospel will only get in as far as our guard’: brilliantly put, Tanya

    – deep, life-sharing friendships are incredible but they’re not easy. It’s scary to open up and to receive. It’s also hard be a real friend who challenges as well as listens.

  11. ‘If we never let our guard down, the gospel will only get in as far as our guard’.

    Brutal experience has taught many of us that ‘letting your guard down’ is often just a means of severe abuse and manipulation by churches and leaders whose only aim is to savage and control in the most destructive fashion – I have friends who will never enter a church again because of such miss- treatment. Paul’s warning about ‘ravenous wolves’ who will devour the flock is just as poignant today as it was 2,000 years ago (take a look at Jaques Ellul’s book ‘The Subversion of Christianity’ to glean the historical bounds of this malevolence or Ronald Enroth’s ‘Churches that abuse’ and Michael Horton’s ‘The Agony of Deceit’ to look at recent aberrations.

    I did make my comments in a glib fashion – this is the spiritual anorexia of the church, and it has killed the faith of many – I’ve seen such questions used to produce exactly that manner of result.

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