The Savior asked questions that invited learners to think and feel deeply about the truths He taught. Our questions can similarly inspire learners to ponder gospel truths and find ways to apply them in their lives. An inspired question is an invitation to learners to discover gospel truths on their own and to evaluate their understanding of and commitment to those truths. Inspired questions can make learning the gospel a more engaging and personally meaningful experience.
Ask Questions That Help Learners Gain Basic Knowledge of Eternal Truths
Before class members can discuss a scripture story or gospel principle, they need to understand it. Some of your questions should encourage learners to search the scriptures to gain a basic knowledge of a story or principle. Such questions often have specific answers, but it is usually best to let the learners discover the answers for themselves. For example, if you were studying Matthew 26:36–46, you could ask, “What details do you find in these verses that describe the Savior’s experience in the Garden of Gethsemane? What did He do for us there?” Or, if you are teaching young children, you could describe the Savior’s experience in Gethsemane in your own words and then ask the children to tell you what Jesus did there.
These discussions should go beyond just the details of the story, as important as they are. Ask questions that help your class members discover gospel principles—the eternal, life-changing truths in the scriptures.
Questions to ponder. What scripture stories or principles do my class members need to understand in an upcoming lesson? What questions could I ask to help them gain a basic understanding from the scriptures?
Scriptural example. What do I learn from the questions the Savior asked in Luke 10:25–28?
Ask Questions That Touch the Heart and Mind
Once learners have basic knowledge about a story or principle, ask questions that help them ponder its meaning so that the story or principle can touch their hearts and minds. You might ask learners to share how they feel about a scripture passage, how the people in the scriptures may have felt, or how the truths in the passage relate to our lives. Because responses to these questions often rely on the feelings and experiences of the learners, the questions usually do not have just one correct answer. Often these questions begin with phrases like “in your opinion” or “how do you feel.” For example, you could ask, “How do you think the Apostles might have felt as they walked to the Garden of Gethsemane with the Savior? How do you feel about what Jesus did there? How are our lives blessed by the Savior’s suffering in the garden?”
Question to ponder. How might questions like those above inspire learners to make changes in their lives?
See also the video “Ask Us Questions” (LDS.org).
Ask Questions That Invite Learners to Act
Some questions prompt learners to apply what they have learned and commit themselves to live the gospel more fully. In most cases, these questions should invite learners to listen to promptings from the Spirit about what they should do. For example, you might ask, “As we have discussed the Savior’s suffering in Gethsemane, what spiritual impressions have you received?” or “What will you do differently because of what you learned today?” These are usually not discussion questions; they are for personal reflection. Learners should share their answers only if they feel comfortable doing so.
Question to ponder. How have questions asked by inspired teachers deepened my commitment to Jesus Christ?
Scriptural example. What do I learn from the way Alma invited his people to be baptized? (see Mosiah 18:7–12).
See also “Invite Learners to Act” in this resource.
Ask Questions That Invite Learners to Bear Testimony
Asking questions that encourage learners to bear testimony of the principles being taught can be a powerful way to invite the Spirit. As learners ponder these questions, they will recognize times when they have seen the Lord’s hand in their lives. Their testimonies—and the testimonies of others in the class—will grow as the Spirit bears witness of the truth. To invite testimonies, you might ask questions such as “How have you come to know that Jesus Christ atoned for your sins?” or “How have you come to appreciate what the Savior did for us in Gethsemane?” or, if you are teaching young children, “How do you feel about Jesus?”
Questions to ponder. What has prompted members of my class to bear their testimonies? How can I encourage them to testify?
Ask Questions That Encourage Self-Evaluation
When Alma preached to the people of Zarahemla, he asked introspective questions like these: “Have ye spiritually been born of God? … Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” (Alma 5:14). You might ask similar questions to encourage learners to evaluate their behavior and commitment to the gospel—for example, “Do you have the faith to pay tithing?” or “Do you tell your family that you love them?” Tell learners not to answer these questions out loud; the purpose of such questions is to help learners privately evaluate their own behavior and commitment to the gospel.
Question to ponder. When has an inspired question helped me evaluate my spiritual progress and commitment? What questions could I ask to encourage self-evaluation in the people I teach?
Scriptural example. As I read John 21:15–17, what stands out to me about the questions Jesus Christ asked Peter?
Ask Questions That Assess Understanding
To determine whether class members understand a principle, try asking a question like “What have you learned about the Atonement of Jesus Christ?” A question that invites learners to state a gospel principle in their own words—especially if asked at the beginning of class—can help you assess how much time you need to spend studying that principle in class.
Question to ponder. What are some other ways I can assess what class members understand?
Scriptural example. How did Ammon assess King Lamoni’s understanding? (see Alma 18:24–36).
Don’t Be Afraid of Silence
Good questions take time to answer. They require pondering, searching, and inspiration. The time you spend waiting for answers to a question can be a sacred time of pondering. Avoid the temptation to end this time too soon by answering your own question or moving on to something else. Tell learners that you will give them time to ponder before they answer.
For the Discussion Leader
Share and counsel together. Begin by inviting teachers to share recent teaching experiences and ask questions related to teaching.
Learn together. Invite teachers to discuss one or more of the ideas in this section. Do not try to cover everything in one meeting.
Practice. Ask teachers (individually or in small groups) to follow the guidelines in this section and write a few questions that they think could benefit class members during an upcoming lesson. (It may be helpful to give teachers this invitation a few days before the meeting so they can come prepared.) Invite teachers to share their questions with each other and provide feedback.
Prepare. Decide together on a topic for the next meeting, and invite teachers to prepare.