Imagine being new to an area and attending a Bible study group with the hope of connecting with people in our new city. We are directed to the group considered the best and listen to a great presentation. A few people introduce themselves to us as everyone adjourns to gather for another presentation in worship. We went with the hope of connecting but left feeling more isolated than when we first arrived.
Some planned discussion in the group could have made the experience so much more inviting and warmer. The people in our class or group need to interact with purpose. There are three actions we can take to make this happen.
1. Decide to make purposeful discussion a part of the group time.
Discussion begins with us as the teacher or leader deciding we will invite the group to participate. We may not like the risk of a question being asked that we do not know how to answer but failing to do so only puts our fears on display. Discussion takes as much work as a presentation, some say more, and can be much more rewarding for those in the class or group. Notice, we included the qualifier purposeful in this first action. That brings us to the second action.
2. Learn to craft purposeful questions.
Questions play a strategic role in the study. We must learn to ask the right question at the right time for the right reasons. Open-ended questions should be the norm. Open-ended questions require more than a yes or no answer. However, at the same time they provide some direction. Asking what stands out to you in this passage may generate discussion, but this question lacks direction. Guided questions help keep the discussion on track. We are guiding the group toward understanding and examining a specific truth or concept. We want to make sure we are not leading them to make a prescripted response. (Examples: a leading question to avoid: Don’t you think we should follow Paul’s directive and provide financial support for the local orphan placement organization; a guiding question to use: How can we actively care for orphans and widows today?)
In the same vein, we must remember that all questions are not created equal. A question that facilitates critical thinking carries more value than a “got it” question (questions that are usually a repetition of content presented by the lecturer). Critical thinking adds breadth and depth to the discussion and lesson.
A great question set empowers the learner to think and become an active part of the learning/discovery process. One reason a lecture can be suffocating is the learner is rarely given permission (empowered) to do anything beyond listen. Learners need to know it is ok to go beyond the facts to the meaning and application of a particular truth and purposeful questions help them do just that.
3. Use the questions included in the Explore the Bible resources.
The good news is if we use Explore the Bible resources, we have access to questions that have already been created following the principles identified above. We can find them in three places for students and adults; the Personal Study Guide/Daily Discipleship Guide, the group plans, and in QuickSource.
- The Personal Study Guide (for adults) and Daily Discipleship Guide (for students and adults). Both resources are designed for the group members, so we grouped them in this list. Every session includes a question that frames the study (associated with the introductory paragraph in each session), other questions that move people to reflect on the critical ideas in each passage section (interspersed through the comments), and some reflection questions that encourage application of the text (on the Apply the Text page). The questions included may spark additional questions, adding life to the group time.
- Group Plans. The group plans in the Leader Guide (student and adult) and the leader helps in the back of the Adult Discipleship Guide explain how to use the questions found in the Personal Study Guide and Daily Discipleship Guide. These plans provide suggested transitions and activities that open the door for using the questions found in the Personal Study Guide and Daily Discipleship Guides. We can start with the suggestions included and then customize the suggestions for our group’s needs. T
- QuickSource. One element found in QuickSource is a set of questions with prompts. The prompts give us clues about what information is needed to answer the question and why that question is important. We can use these questions as a set or add them to the questions included in the Personal Study Guide and Daily Discipleship Guide. The only thing we need to remember is the purpose of the question so we can ask them in the right order.
You can review four lessons from the resources listed above. Complete the form, and the four lessons are yours to download for free!