First, let me share what “sincerely respond” means.

  • By “sincerely,” I mean genuinely, earnestly, honestly, personally, authentically, from the heart.
  • By “respond,” I mean consider, grapple with, reflect on, mull over, interact with, engage with.
  • By “sincerely respond,” I mean genuinely consider, earnestly grapple with, honestly reflect on, personally mull over, authentically interact with, engage with from the heart.

Second, let me share what the opposite of “sincerely respond” means. Let me share what “insincerely” and “react” mean.

  • By “insincerely,” I mean superficially, impersonally, hypocritically. Insincerity makes me cringe and feel sad.
  • By “react,” I mean oppose, fight, counter. Reactions lead to lack of learning, lack of reflection, and lack of sharing.

Now, let me give you a starter list of 10 ways you can help your students sincerely respond to Biblical perspective questions:

  1. Ask God for help. Regularly. Ask God to help your students sincerely respond to your questions so that they can increase their understanding and application of a Biblical perspective.
  2. Ask open-ended questions that connect course content, life, and a Biblical perspective.
  3. Make sure students understand what each Biblical perspective question means.
  4. Be natural when asking your questions. If you feel uncomfortable, practice talking with colleagues about a Biblical perspective and about using questions to help students understand and apply a Biblical perspective. Talk until talking becomes natural. Students respond to natural conversation. Students don’t respond to conversations that feel fake or forced.
  5. Make the class environment safe. Make it safe to sincerely respond to Biblical perspective questions. Have your students talk about what it feels like to be in a “sincere” discussion and an “insincere” discussion. Challenge your students to contribute to “sincere” discussions.
  6. Build Biblical perspective questions into your class. How? Put your questions on your syllabi. Post your questions on your bulletin boards, and regularly use them as a visual aid. Target one or more questions during each unit, and develop a unit assessment that targets the unit question(s).
  7. Use engaging instructional strategies that involve each of your students in responding to a question, like small group discussion, role play, and journaling.
  8. Encourage your students to think through answers for themselves.
  9. Give significant time in class for your students to reflect on your Biblical perspective questions. Sincere responses take time to develop. Don’t hurry your students.
  10. Give your students repeated opportunities to respond to the same question.

Note: If you want to don’t want your students to sincerely respond to your Biblical perspective questions, here are 10 things you can do to encourage insincerity and reaction:

  1. Make sure your Biblical perspective questions only address course content. Don’t ask questions that involve students reflecting on their lives.
  2. When you ask your question, talk really fast. Or whisper. Or make sure your pronunciation is unintelligible. Better yet, do all three. And then quickly move to other matters.
  3. Convey a superficial interest in your students’ responses. Listen, but glance away from the student who is talking. Don’t ask a follow-up question.
  4. During discussions, allow your students to attack each other and to interrupt each other. Find ways to encourage talkative students to interrupt shy students.
  5. Don’t post your Biblical perspective questions anywhere. Not on your bulletin boards. Not on your handouts. Not on your Web site. Remember, if your students don’t know the questions, your students can’t respond to them.
  6. Don’t assess what your students learn from responding to Biblical perspective questions. Don’t take their learning about a Biblical perspective as seriously as you would other content they learn. By not assessing your students’ responses, you’ll help your students understand that what they learn about a Biblical perspective is unimportant.
  7. Always use whole group discussion. This will ensure that some students don’t respond. To get even fewer students to participate in the discussion, encourage 3-5 students to dominate the discussion.
  8. Answer your own Biblical perspective questions. Immediately. By lecturing. At the end of your lecture, face the board and ask “Any comments?” Give 1 second for your students to respond, and then say (while still facing the board), “OK, let’s move on.”
  9. Ask Biblical perspective questions right before the dismissal bell rings. Better yet, ask questions when dismissal bell is ringing.
  10. Over the course of the semester or year, ask your questions once. Not twice. Never 3 or more times. If you repeat your questions, your students might think about them.

Seriously: Please be careful. The stakes are high. If you don’t help your students to sincerely respond to questions…

  1. Your students may learn that the purpose of school is to get into college or to get a job, not to become equipped to impact the world for Christ. Your students’ answers will be limited to course content. This will reinforce that the real stuff of education addresses college and career, and the superficial stuff of education addresses a Biblical perspective.
  2. Your students might become cynical. Wouldn’t you get cynical if you were asked questions but not allowed to really respond? And, what’s the impact if students get cynical about increasing their understanding and application of a Biblical perspective?
  3. Your students may rely on you for the right answers. You will ask questions, and you will give answers. Your students know this. So, they will know they don’t need to think, don’t need to understand or apply a Biblical perspective. Ouch.

So, what’s the real question? Well, it’s not “How can I help my students to sincerely respond to questions?” It’s “How will I help my students sincerely respond to questions today?”

Remember, success is your students increasing their understanding and application of a Biblical perspective by responding sincerely to a good question you ask. Success is not you helping your students to sincerely respond. But remember, by taking steps to encourage your students to respond sincerely, you increase the likelihood that they will respond sincerely—and so increase their understanding and application of a Biblical perspective.

Help your students sincerely respond to Biblical perspective questions. Today.


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