A key role of a facilitator is to find a balance between these two activities. And their unique relation can make this challenging.
Questions grow out of two sources. One of these is the information that a person receives which creates in them questions. They want to understand the information better. They want to know how to apply and adapt it to their world.
Another is the desire to find information. There is an awareness that information is missing and the person asks questions with the purpose of filling in the blanks, to get the information they seek so they can ask more questions. And so they can evaluate what they know, what they have learned, and how it relates to their world.
Truthfully no question is formed in a vacuum. They are always formed based on what is known or what is not known. Children are famous for the latter when they start asking how and why and so on. They know there is information they need and they ask questions. At times so many questions a parent gets a little frustrated.
Providing information then is the process of providing what is needed so that questions can be formed and answered.
This is the aspect of questions from the side of the one seeking information.
Then there is the person who has information. They have several options, provide the information requested, provide some information and help the person find the rest, and ask questions to explore what the person already knows, what information they have, and to help process how to use what they know. This process can also help define what information needs to be provided for the process to continue.
There is a danger in the forming of questions. And both sides have to evaluate this issue. Both those involved have background, experience, knowledge and so on which will impact how they formulate their questions. This creates a context which is also deeply rooted in the culture and history of both parties.
The one seeking knowledge will formulate their questions from this context. The authority, the one being asked with do the same, no matter if it is in supplying the information or asking other questions. And the authority needs to be aware that even in asking questions they will reflect their preferences and concepts of what is needed. This cannot be avoided. It is not wrong. It is life. We never ask a question in this setting without some kind of background noise or expectation. The key is to not let it take control if the conversation goes down a different path than the one expected or desired by either party.
I have heard many talk about how Jesus was great at asking questions. And yes he was. But he was also very accomplished in providing information. The sermon on the mount is filled with information. He told parables and when the disciples asked him to explain he did so. One of those was his explanation of the sower. He also provided information on the kingdom of heaven. He also instructed the disciples in what to do when he sent them out on two occasions to proclaim the coming of the kingdom. Then later he revised that instruction related to how they should carry out the same task after his resurrection.
He was asked what the greatest commandment was and he answered that question and then added more information than was requested. When with the disciples for the last supper he provided extensive information for them to consider and remember.
Yes he asked questions and he also answered them. He also provided information that would open the door to the disciples asking questions which he often answered. Jesus was not afraid to provide the information which would create the background which opened the way for the disciples to ask questions. Often in areas they had not been thinking about.
One interesting one was when he was teaching on loving your neighbor and was asked who my neighbor is. He answered that question by telling a story and when he finished, he asked the person who the true neighbor in the story was. When the person answered Jesus then gave a further instruction to him to go and do the same. This combination of questions and information changed the concept of who my neighbor is.
To be honest I have lots of questions and I have received a lot of information over the years via, classes, books, seminar, conversations, and personal study. I don’t accept every answer at face value. But I am not afraid to receive answers so that I can think more clearly about how to answer the questions I was asking.
We need both. We need information to help get us going in forming and answering questions. And we need questions to help define the information needed to move forward in answering the question.
It I an important balance that must be developed each time we come together to do any planning and development. It is especially important as we look at the process of being facilitators. To learn to match information to questions and questions to information so both parties can grow and own the process of doing the best kingdom work possible.