The Art of Asking Questions

In a small group setting, questions are far more than just a way to pass the time. They need to be more than a list of spiritual discussions we need to work our way through. Well-timed and well-asked questions have an enormous amount of untapped potential.

We've all heard the saying, "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach". While this may be true, I would also suggest that questions can be the entryway to a person's heart. When used appropriately, the right questions at the right time can be the catalyst for spiritual introspection and formation as well as community growth.

Asking questions is an art form. Every small group leader should constantly strive to become better at asking spiritually probing questions.

From the blog of Josh Robinson, here are three things to think about as you seek to become a "question artist".

1. What is the main thought of the biblical discussion? Preparing a goal for each lesson into one sentence will help drive the main thought in each person’s heart. If a leader does not know where they are going, it can easily become distracted and run off course. Keeping the nights focused on life application will keep it fresh and engaging. As a leader, the goal should not be simply answering the questions. If a leader knows where they are going they will create tension that helps people seek God for the answers in life. The goal of discipleship is that people grow in their relationship with Christ. The most important aspect of growing in Christ is to understand and apply His word.

2. Am I willing to embrace the awkward art of asking questions? What happens when we only share information? It is called info dumping! People disconnect and look to one or two people who are the experts. If a leader quickly gives answers the rest of the group will become disconnected from the discussion. We have all seen it, especially in student ministry. “Okay, what does Jesus mean when He says, blessed are the poor in spirit?” The air in the room is quickly depleted while most look at their shoe laces. The leader feels the awkward silence and quickly answers the question. What happens is the students realize that each time a question is asked, if they are patient, they will not have to engage in the discussion. Many times I will simply say, “I enjoy the awkwardness, let’s keep thinking about this question” and repeat the question in a fresh way. Embrace the awkward moments and do not let them off the hook or you will create a lecture based small group with people disconnected from God’s Word.

3. Are my questions leading to more questions? Healthy small groups discuss the Bible rather than listen to one person give a lecture. I’m guilty of being the main one talking when I lead a small group. Discussion gives people the chance to ask questions and voice their struggles, opinions and thoughts. People want to know what God’s words means and how to apply it to their own lives. Questions should always lead people back to scripture. If a question is based upon an agenda, it is not a Bible study, but an opinion study. Opinions are important, but God’s Word is the final source of truth. It is important to set aside one’s ideas, personal experience and opinions when studying and applying God’s Word.