Consider the differences between…
…participating in an archeological dig VS reading a book about archeology.
…or watching a TV show about animals VS a guided tour of a zoo.
In both of these comparisons you are essentially dealing with the same subject matter; but the experience is almost incomparable.
Now consider the difference between listening to a sermon VS being invited into a discussion about the same passage scripture. Often, questions and discussion have more power than a lecture. When a Small Group leader learns to combine the power of questions with the truth found in God’s Word; the results are limitless.
Don’t misunderstand, I believe that a lecture is also an important tool (especially in relation to sermons and preaching); but lectures do not belong in Small Groups – just like open discussion does not belong in a sermon. Without understanding the power of questions; small groups can become a series of misguided rabbit trails – or possibly even worse, a platform for unwanted lectures.
Small Groups have the potential to immerse participants in an interactive discovery of God’s Word. A series of well crafted questions can lead a person to discover God’s truth (and make them feel like they found it on their own!) Consider one of many examples where Jesus unlocked truth through His use of questions. A man asked Jesus a simple question, “What should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus could have simply answered the question; but instead, He chose to lead the man to discover the answer for himself.
If someone asked me how to have eternal life, my first instinct would be to explain the plan of salvation. I’d quote verses, give meaningful insight, tell about my own experiences, and make sure they understood all the important details. But that’s not what Jesus did.
Jesus and the man enter into a conversation which included questions from each. Jesus then added a story that stirred the man to uncover the answer. (Read the full dialogue from Luke 10 below.)
Jesus creatively led this man to discover truth for himself.
Think about it… if the person discovers a nugget of truth on their own, they will be more likely to value and embrace it. If a person is simply handed a nugget of truth, they will be less likely to grasp its significance.
Think honestly about your last few Small Group gatherings. Who did most of the talking? Were the participants handed bits of Biblical information, or guided to discover it?
It takes practice and skill to creatively guide people to discover God’s Word on their own. Questions are a powerful tool. Small Group leaders need to develop the art of asking them.
In coming posts, you’ll be given many practical tools to help you learn the art of developing and asking good discussion questions, as well as explore many other helpful Small Group leadership tips and tools.
Here is one to get you started: How to Develop Guided Questions
By Eddie Zdanio
25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” 27 The man answered, “ ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” 28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” 29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. 31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. 33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ 36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. 37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” (NLT)