This is out of our Volunteer Training book we have developed here at the west campus student ministry.
A good question puts the ball in the court of the learner. Aside from generating verbal interaction, everyone can answer the question quietly and softly in the privacy of their own thoughts...when you hear a question, it’s almost impossible not to think about your answer.
Questions create an opportunity for your students to become active participants. Good questions allow for self discovery, as after the need is recognized by the leader, he or she seeks to fill that gap in his or her knowledge, maturity, etc. Personal understanding and ownership can be facilitated by good questions. Teach people to think for themselves!
Some Keys to Good Questions
1. Think through a series of questions. Phrase the same thing in a couple different ways. Because people think differently, at times a single truth ought to be expressed in several different ways.
2. Discern the particular truth you hope to communicate, and then create good questions to lead your group there. Good questions build on one another and lead to a particular destination.
3. Ask questions that are understandable. In our curriculums, we have tried to be clear as possible. But don’t settle for that! If you can say something better, then do it!
4. Use every ounce of imagination you have, and consider where your students are really “at.” Use this wisdom to craft your question beforehand and to make adjustments during your Collision Group.
5. Maintain eye contact. It’s more personal and encouraging.
6. Don’t settle for the “Right Answers.” When someone gives you a quick answer, press them to determine confidence level—are they saying something they believe, or repeating something they’ve heard before. Ask them, “Ok, I hear what you’re saying, but what does that really mean?”
7. Create confusion, don’t shy away from things that are difficult and controversial. Don’t let your students “off the hook” with difficult issues. Healthy confusion leads to growth. This is based upon the “Poor in Spirit” Principle: if a learner doesn’t feel the need to learn, he or she won’t.
8. Admit confusion. You don’t know everything, so don’t worry about hiding this when you’re confused.
9. Be positive. According to the example set by Jesus, only hypocritical religious leaders deserve negative input...chances are you don’t have too many of those in your Collision Group.
10. Be focused. Being sensitive to the Spirit doesn’t mean wandering around every spiritual truth, guided only the tangents of your group. Rather than covering a ton of subjects on a surface level, go deep with just one or two.
11. Repeat long answers with a quick summary, when one student talks for a long time, and is confusing, you’ll lose the rest of your group. To bring them back in, give a quick summary, or gently ask for one.
12. Don’t answer your own questions… or let other leaders answer...if you need to hurt the feelings of another leader, do so. Do it gently, but do it.
13. When you ask a question, don’t settle for just one answer from a single person—even if it’s the “right” answer. Prompt further responses with phrases like “Good, who else...what’s your take?” “Does anyone have something to add?” “Who agrees with what was said? Ok why?” “Who disagrees…why?”
14. Learn multiple sides of an issue. Consider common misapplications/misunderstandings/myths. This will help you create “healthy confusion” and present different angles on the same subject.
15. Be transparent. Share your inadequacies in understanding different truths.
16. Jesus commanded us to teach others to OBEY his commandments. Keep your discussions real. Head knowledge is for the classroom. You’re at a Collision Group; keep the significance of the conversation in front of your learners.
17. Learn to push things to the extremes. We often accept truths because they are nice in the few situations in which we apply them. Challenge the answers your students give you by applying them in all kinds of situations, test them for consistency and accurately consider the implications.
18. Have students write down especially good questions and tell them to journal on them. This is also great for questions you don’t have a chance to get to… but be realistic, don’t dish out a dozen questions!
19. Ignite your passion. If you’re never passionate when you teach God’s Word, spend a day or two fasting and studying and praying. If that doesn’t work, you need to talk with someone about your spiritual health, and you probably shouldn’t be leading a Collision Group.
Next to salvation, God’s Word is the greatest gift we have from God. YOU GET to COMMUNICATE IT! You don’t deserve it neither do I. You aren’t good enough, and neither am I. But the mystery remains: God will speak through you! Get excited about that…or get excited about letting someone else lead your group.
Excitement and passion don’t mean doing back flips every week. Nor does it mean you’ll always feel “up.” I’m talking about the deep rooted joy that comes from walking in the Spirit. Sometimes, I come to my Collision Group tired and worn out. Don’t try to fake it, if you find yourself lacking, then run to God’s presence.