View the 10 Commandments for Leading Discussions here.
Prepare “good” questions prior to the meeting
Have you ever been part of a discussion that went absolutely no where? One of the most important tasks a small group leader needs to execute is GOOD PREPARATION. If your group is going to engage in a good discussion, that will ONLY HAPPEN if you are willing to take the time beforehand to prepare good questions.
You can follow these steps to prepare good questions ahead of time:
Set aside ample time for preparation. This time will include prayer, study, contemplation, and writing so 15 minutes before your group meeting is probably not enough. You need to set a time, block it off on your calendar, and honor that commitment to yourself.
There really isn’t any reason to do anything if you aren’t relying on God to make it successful; so if you really want to give your discussion the best shot, pray.
You’ve set aside time and you’ve prayed it up, so now you are ready to prepare. I would recommend the following order of events for your prep time (although everyone will do it a little different).
- Study. Whether you’re studying a biblical passage, reading a book, following a guide, or watching a video; take the time to make yourself familiar with the material. You should know it better than anyone else.
- Contemplate. Think about where the people in your group are at in their lives. What are they struggling with? What are they celebrating? How is their family? their job? Is anyone in crisis? Consider how the material you are looking at is relevant to their lives.
- Write. Don’t just develop a bunch of questions which serve only to increase your member’s knowledge about the material. Craft a discussion experience which will lead your group on a journey to impact their hearts, minds, souls, and strength.
Some of the other “Discussion Suggestions” will help you as you create these questions, but as a starter, here are some simple suggestions for putting questions together:
- Ask open ended questions. Questions that can be answered with “yes” or “no” will kill the conversation quickly.
- “How” and “why” questions typically promote good discussion.
- “When have you…” and “How do you feel about…” are usually a solid way to start a question.
- More questions are better than fewer, as you can always delete them based on the course of the conversation.
Ultimately, experience is the best teacher. The more questions you write, the better you’ll get. Read other people’s questions, and ask yourself why they are (or are not) effective. If you can handle constructive criticism, ask a couple members of your small group to give you feedback on your questions. Most importantly, keep working at it.