A group discussion can be like a captivating, well-played volleyball game. As the leader, you serve the ball by asking a good question. Then someone answers, setting up the ball for someone else in the group to respond.
It takes practice, preparation and hard work to play an exciting game of volleyball, and the same is true of good group discussions.
Below are five different ways of asking questions and listening well that can help you lead a good discussion in your small group.
A good way to start your study or discussion is with a wide-open question that raises an issue from the Bible passage you are reading.
These questions come after the icebreakers and before you get into the actual Bible study. They can help link to aspects of our need for God that surface in the passage you’re reading.
After your launch question(s) and a summary of the passage, you can ask questions that help your group discover what God says in His Word. In order to arrive at the meaning of the passage, these questions should be both limiting and open-ended and should focus on the following:
What does it say? (Observation Questions)
What does it mean? (Interpretation Questions)
Why does it matter? (Significance Questions)
Before you move on, help your group discover the big idea of the passage. Ask a question that helps them see the central theme or main point of the passage.
Your group’s study will be most effective when it helps expose spiritual brokenness (hearts looking for life outside of a relationship with Christ) and points to Jesus as the only remedy.
First, ask a couple of questions that help the group envision what it would look like to practically live out the passage.
Next, ask a couple of questions that expose our need for a Savior and how the heart tries to find life apart from Christ.
Then, ask a couple of questions that point the group to Christ, our only remedy for our brokenness.
The goal of these questions is to point the group away from their natural desire to work harder at changing their behavior and instead toward Christ as the only source of growth and life.
Launching, exploring and heart-level response questions uncover the meaning of the text, the roots of our sin and our response to Jesus; these are the critical questions.
As you ask heart-level questions, your Bible study should grow in authenticity, honesty and community. But it’s also important to think through questions that have the sole purpose of generating discussion and adding to the social dimension of the group.
These questions are not insignificant. While your primary focus is for people to encounter Christ, you also need to make sure that they encounter one another, which is encountering Christ through community.
When it comes to having good discussions, asking good questions is half the battle. Listening is the other half.
As you listen, you show the rest of the group you value their opinions; your questions will become more relevant and the group will be more likely to participate in the discussion.
As people share:
We’re so glad you’ve taken the step of faith to lead a group.
For other tips and resources, check out “(Almost) Everything You Need to Know About Leading a Small Group,” or sign up for our weekly small group leader tips email series.
You can find more great info on leading a small group in the book “The Ultimate Roadtrip.”
Adapted from Rick Hove, “The Ultimate Roadtrip: A Guide to Leading Small Groups” (Orlando: CruPress, 2010). Order at CruPress.com.
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Life-changing small group environments are less about how-tos and more about experiencing Jesus. They are not focused on building head knowledge but on changing hearts and minds. These communities not only equip their members for service but also expose sin and call people to adore Christ. Christ-centered communities transform lives from the inside out.
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