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Pastors, It’s Time to Get on Quora

Every month, 200 million people use Quora.com to tap into the collective knowledge of everyday people. Thousands of questions are asked on Quora every single day.

And it’s not just regular folks who weigh in on these questions. Leading experts, millionaires, and even former presidents have hopped on Quora to share their insights.

While there are plenty of other Q&A forums out there, Quora’s public profiles, social networking, and widespread adoption provide some unique opportunities for pastors.
Quora is a goldmine you could be using every week. Here’s why you should start:

7 Reasons Every Pastor Should Have a Quora Account

Even if you only dive into Quora as an observer, you can gain plenty of insights about your local community, people, and a huge variety of topics. Start asking and answering questions for yourself, and you’ll quickly find a well of information that never runs dry.

1. It’s an endless source of illustration content

Some questions are best answered with stories. On Quora, people frequently respond to questions with blog-post-length life stories that directly relate to the question. If you’re preparing sermons with enough time in advance, Quora is a great place to ask specific questions to help you understand the connections you want to make between life and Scripture. Or, if you need a quick last-minute illustration, you could explore the questions people have already answered. You can find story-based answers to just about anything. Search for questions like:

  • When was the last time you….?
  • What was it like to….?
  • How do you….?

You don’t have to be afraid of asking very specific questions—if it hasn’t been answered, and you don’t have time to wait for an answer, Quora can help you find the next-best-thing.
These detailed, often candid answers come from real people sharing from their own experience.

With Quora, you don’t have to bang your head against the desk trying to imagine what it would be like to be in a particular situation: odds are someone has already written the answer.

2. It’s a way to learn different perspectives from regular people

As you tell Quora what you’re interested in and explore the questions within each topic, you’ll be exposed to more and more views on things that matter to you. Even if you’re convinced there’s only one right answer to a particular question, Quora helps you see the variety of answers other people embrace. Since Quora profiles generally use people’s real names and actual photos (you can sign in with Facebook, Google, or email) and the platform encourages answers with rich contextual information, you can also get a good idea of where people are coming from when they answer questions.

3. You can see questions people are asking about God, faith, and cultural issues

When you go to a topic, the first thing you’ll see are the questions people are asking and answering right now. As you skim the feed for each topic, you’ll see popular questions being answered again and again. See what people are asking right now about God, faith, and gender differences.

4. It’s a good way to sharpen your communication skills

Sermon writing is uniquely challenging: you have to accurately explain the meaning and implications of ancient teachings, using context, theology, and probably a wealth of information you learned in seminary—but in a way that makes sense to regular people who know nothing about any of those things.

Answering questions on Quora lets you practice formally and informally explaining your take on Scripture and other topics you care about. People can interact with your answers and help you see where you’re over-or-under-explaining. You can even experiment with illustrations and see how the general public responds to them.

5. It hones your ability to engage with good questions

You probably have questions and topics you’re really passionate about. But if nobody is interested in answering your questions, it’s probably time to reconsider how they relate to people. There may be a problem with the question itself, or it could simply be the way you’re asking it. If someone doesn’t understand what you’re saying, it’s not just hard for them to answer—it’s hard to be interested at all.

Keep your questions simple and concise. Use informal language. Think about how someone in your congregation might ask the question. As you ask more relevant, interesting questions within a topic, you should find that more and more people want to answer (and see the answers to) your question.

6. You can discover issues your congregation cares about

When you login to Quora, you use your Facebook profile, Gmail account, or email address, and let Quora access your contacts. This isn’t so that they can spam all your friends (or contact them in any way). It’s so they can find other people you know who are already on Quora, and show you the questions they’re asking and answering. So if you’re Facebook friends with members of your congregation (or have their email addresses in your contacts), you can see what they’re asking millions of people about.

If you know what kinds of topics matter to your congregation, you can also use Quora to see what other people who are interested in those topics are talking about. Even if all you have is some demographic information, you can use this to get a general idea of what topics they might be interested in (college students, seniors, parents, etc., have some pretty particular interests).

7. It’s a great way to build authority

Quora wants to know what topics you know a lot about. While you can claim to be an expert about anything, your answers will quickly determine what authority other people are willing place in you. If you regularly contribute valuable insights about a particular topic, the masses of people using Quora can affirm the things you know a lot about. As you continue engaging in the conversations around these topics, you’ll learn to identify the responses that are most effective.

Quora Is a Valuable Social Tool

Whether you’re looking for expert answers or you just want to know what regular people are thinking and talking about, Quora is a great place to explore the topics you’re preaching on. As you talk about the things that matter most to you, you’ll also polish up your social skills and learn how to break down complicated topics into their simplest forms. And that’s why Quora is an invaluable tool for pastors.