As I read through the Gospels, I see something very interesting. Jesus often taught the most profound truth with simple questions: Who do they say that I am? Where are your accusers? Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Do you want to get well? Each of the questions led to deep truths. Now that you’ve thought for a moment about how Jesus taught, I have a question for you: If Jesus led with questions, why do we lead with propositions, outlines, and neatly tailored thoughts?
If we’re going to lead people to discover, internalize, and take action on truth, we need to learn the power of the right question at the right time. One of the greatest skills that a leader can develop is to teach through discussion. For some of us, this takes a significant mind-set change. We need to move from being a lecturer to a leader of a discussion. It takes guts to make this move. As a lecturer, you can study and prepare and know what’s coming. Everything’s there before you. As one who leads with questions rather than predetermined conclusions, you begin a risky path to learning both for your group and for yourself.
Characteristics of Discussion-Based Small Groups
Let me define what I mean by leading with questions. Leading with questions is taking people on an intentional discovery of truth and specific ways to apply and live out that truth. Catch the essential elements of what it means to be a discussion-oriented teacher:
- You are a leader. You are more than a facilitator. A facilitator takes the group wherever the group wants to go. A leader takes the group where the group needs to go. Leaders take responsibility for the spiritual growth and the relational development of others.
- Good questions aren’t random. They’re very intentional. Purposeful questions do a couple of things. First, they get the group to engage with one another and with the focus for the study. Second, they encourage people to encounter God’s Word so that they answer their questions about Scripture instead of just learning how you’ve answered your questions about Scripture.
- Group discussions lead to personal action. This action element is missing from most studies, whether lecture or discussion. As a leader, get in the mindset of equipping your group to “go” based on the challenges of the study. For this to happen, you have to dedicate time for people to process and talk about the action steps they can and are willing to take. Plan for this so that time doesn’t get away from you. If you spend too much time dissecting truth and you don’t have time to discuss a plan of action, then you haven’t had a successful group. Learning leads to action.
Read Part 2, “How to Lead a Discussion-Based Small Group,” HERE.