The One Unexpected Question That Reveals the Heart of Your Church

by Sam Rainer

At Church Answers, we receive a lot of questions about churches. There are hundreds of daily interactions in our membership forum, Church Answers Central. I also ask many questions when I’m consulting and coaching. Over two decades, I’ve refined the types of questions I ask and the way I ask questions. Some questions don’t elicit much of a response. Other questions cause people to pause and think. Then, there are the questions that get people talking.

Some of the best learning experiences as a leader come when you ask a good question and listen. After twenty-five years of researching churches, I’ve found one question more than any other seems to get people talking.

“What gets your church most excited?”

Or if you want a personal perspective, “What gets you most excited about your church?”

The question is not threatening because it gives people a chance to offer a positive answer. At the same time, the question narrows potential responses to the most exciting part about their church. It forces an answer into one reply.

The answer reveals passion. The term exciting implies enthusiasm. When people reply about what excites them, you have an idea of what drives their passion. I’ve heard a wide range of answers—from theology to programs to buildings to mission to preaching. Rarely are people negative about their passions, so their answers reveal what they feel is most positive about their church.

The answer reveals priority. What is exciting is often a priority. If you are passionate about something, you often elevate it above other things.

The answer reveals perspective. Is the church’s excitement in the past? The present? Or the future? Excitement in the past usually points to a lack of excitement in the present. Excitement in the future could indicate that a person perceives the church is moving in a positive direction or that they are hopeful things will change soon.

The answer reveals personality. Each church has a different personality. Some churches are more extroverted than others, and new people are exciting to the congregants. Some churches are more thoughtful, and people get excited about caring for others. Some churches are generous, and there is excitement around giving to God’s kingdom. The excitement of a church is often an indicator of its personality.

One question will not uncover every critical part of a church. But asking about what gets people excited reveals a lot of information in a non-threatening way. It’s one of the more common questions I ask in consultations and even in my church. I enjoy hearing the different perspectives in what is almost always a pleasant and positive conversation.

So, ask some people, “What excites you most about our church?” I’m sure you will learn something by listening to the answers.