Asking Good Questions: Part One

The following is excerpted from an article in the July/August issue of Discipleship Journal.

The first mistake we often make when leading discussions is asking closed questions. A closed question is one with an obvious, usually one-word answer. For example, during a discussion about John 4--the woman-at-the-well story--you might ask the closed question, "To whom is Jesus talking?"

This kind of question is almost always met with silence. Although everyone knows the answer, no one offers it. Why? Because people feel silly answering questions to which everyone knows the correct response. They might also think responding to the question is a waste of time because arriving at the answer doesn't require discussion.

If a question has only one obvious answer, rephrase it to enable multiple responses. Instead of asking, "To whom is Jesus talking?" you might ask, "Is it significant that Jesus is talking to a Samaritan woman? Why or why not?" This question permits group members to discuss responses ranging from the significance of Jesus talking to any person to the implications of Him conversing with a woman, especially a Samaritan woman.