5 Questions You Need To Start Asking Your Students (And Which Ones To Stop)

Zachary McAlack
May 27th, 2021

These questions can be used in a small group or in a one-on-one format. The intention of each is to ask questions that help students to think deeply about who they are and who they could be if Jesus Christ were to be the center of their lives. 

What kind of person do you want to be when you grow up? 

Instead of: What do you want to do when you grow up?

Many students are under a great deal of pressure to perform. They are constantly asked about what career they want to pursue or move forward into. Many of the students I have worked with have been paralyzed by this question, with the multiplying of the variety of job and job markets many students graduate with no clear sense of what comes next. During a flurry of future planning, very few students are asked to think deeply about what kind of person they will be. What will characterize them as people? Will they be reliable, dependable? Will they be faithful to Christ? Will they be emotionally stable, relationally strong? Humble? Hospitable? 

When did you feel the most like yourself this week?

Instead of: What was the best part of your week?

Since the pandemic began, most of the conversations I have with students about their lives reveals an underlying disappointment with life. Listening to students repeatedly talk about how their week lacked any kind of excitement and how their lives drone on with nothing to mark the days I decided to ask a new question. What in your life feels normal? This led to a deeper question, who am I normally? That’s what’s behind this question, a deep look at who I am and why I feel normal doing certain activities.  

How did God find you this week?

Instead of: What did you learn about God this week?

Youth Workers can accidently evaluate a student’s spirituality by works—how much time they read the bible, pray, how often they go to church, etc. What we are trying to ask is whether or not the student is experiencing God and growing in their faith. But In this question, we put pressure on our students asking them to perform for us, showing off how much they know about God. But this question revision attempts to spin a works-centered-righteousness on its head and focus on God’s dispensing of grace. This question assumes that God is seeking each of us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and is asking students to evaluate how they saw God’s pursuit of them this week. 

What do you wish someone would ask you?

Instead of: Is there anything I can do to help? 

I use this question most often for a student I know is hurting. When students experience loss of a loved one, their parent’s divorce, crushing changes in their health or life situations, or pressure in school, I have found that they WANT to talk about it, but no one asks. Maybe we don’t ask because we think they want to ignore it or because we don’t want to get caught in their mess, but this question can be a gateway to allowing students to tell you “I need to talk about this loss.” 

What do you want out of life?


This question is asking what they want in life right now, but also when they look back, what they want to remember. This requires some deep introspection but can be a great starter when you need to have a hard conversation with a student regarding their actions or attitude. I am convinced that no student wants to be the “bad” kid. Often, students have a disassociation between their actions and the way that is affecting others and the perception others have of them. This question allows them to consider what they are doing as they think about what they want, but more importantly WHY they are doing it. 

BONUS QUESTION: If you were featured in the song “Old MacDonald had a farm” what sound would you make?

Not which animal sound do you like the most, but what weird sound do you make that would characterize you if you were on Old MacDonald’s farm. This one always gets some silly laughs.

Zachary McAlack

Zachary McAlack felt called to ministry while serving middle school students when he was 18. He has attended Philadelphia Biblical University and Dallas Theological Seminary.

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