There seems to be a conundrum in the church when it comes to the idea of a question.
Questions can be one of two things: 1) an interrogative sentence that is used to gather information or 2) a starting point for further exploration on a topic that results in change or greater understanding.
The problem that I continue to see is our misuse of this wonderful tool of exploration within our small groups and mentoring relationships. The art of developing good questions begins with a desire to go beyond information gathering to developing questions that result in transformation.
As leaders of college students and young adults we have the opportunity to model for them the art of asking good questions. Whether it is in a small group Bible study or a one-on-one discipleship context, asking questions takes young adults beyond the mundane of information to the excitement of discovery.
Tap into your inner 4-year-old and ask questions that you don’t allow yourself to ask anymore. Why do kids get so excited over answers to questions? The reason could be that they are asking for discovery, not just information. When you allow yourself to ask questions of scripture that take you beyond information, you discover the depth and richness of the Word of God that is meant for life transformation.
As you prepare for leading college students and young adults, consider the following thoughts as you prepare questions:
1. Ask Questions that Go Deeper than the Obvious (Don’t Make it Easy)
As you think about questions for your group, ask questions that can’t be “Googled.” I find myself looking up questions all of the time on my phone, but it makes very little life impact on me beyond that moment. When we ask a question about scripture or our walk with Christ, why would we be satisfied with asking something that will not be relevant beyond the door of your meeting space? Help your college students and young adults learn how to think and to find joy in the uncomfortableness of a not-so-easy question.
2. Ask Questions that Stimulate More Conversation
I get excited when a question stimulates another question (without chasing a wild rabbit). Something exciting happens when one question begins a conversation that results in other questions that emerge. Questions that are personal keep the entire group engaged and interested in what is being discussed.
Some of these questions may not end in an answer. As a leader of the group you have to be OK with questions that may go unanswered for a bit. However, never leave the question lingering. Make sure you go back to the question the next time your group gathers. There may have been some significant thought put into that question in the time between the group meetings. Make sure you give your group time to go back to the discussion that lingered and address the issue.
3. Ask Questions that you Don’t Know the Answer to
Asking a question that you may not necessarily know the answer to may frighten you. It’s not that you haven’t thought about it or formed some ideas to address, but it’s the challenge that you are in this together with your college students and young adults. When they see that you are wrestling with a question right along with them, it brings about a trust and authenticity that they value in a leader. Don’t be afraid to ask the questions that you may not know. You may be surprised – your group may show YOU something.
Questions are key to small groups. As a leader, learn to ask questions that are going to stick. I’m convinced that Jesus and the disciples had conversations around the fires in the evenings that were not information-driven, but were sparked by the good questions that only the Truth can answer.