The best questions for conversation are ones that allow for a variety of responses that enable the group to probe beneath the surface. It is also helpful to frame them in a way that opens up future possibilities rather than focusing on problems with negative consequences. Since we are a church, it is also helpful to ask questions in a way that includes the faith dimensions.
Sometimes asking for a series of responses to a question pushes us to dig a little deeper. For example, in reflecting on what has gone well in our congregational life in recent times, what are three or four strengths that are in this congregation?
What are three or four faith questions that members of this congregation might benefit from exploring? Are there events, classes, worship experiences that might assist them in that exploration?
Imagine God specifically addressing this congregation and offering some challenges for your future ministry. What are three or four areas that God might address?
Name three or four gifts that exist among the pastoral staff and three or four gifts that exist within the session and explore how they might combine to offer some effective ministry for this congregation and the community in which it exists?
The point is to ask questions that push our thinking beyond the mundane and lift our vision to that which is greater than our immediate concerns. Problems can lead to possibilities and gift recognition can open up new directions. It might be both enjoyable and beneficial to explain the general framework and then allow the session and clergy to brainstorm a series of questions for themselves. When they focus on the questions rather than the answers, their imagination can be liberated. By the time they turn to actually responding to a select group of questions that they have identified, they may be free to listen to God in a new way.