How To Write Better Small Group Questions

There is nothing more rewarding than sitting back during small group and listening to your teens dialogue.  A few months ago I got to enjoy that for the first time when one question asked by my co-leader sparked an entire conversation facilitated by the teens.  It’s a far cry from the first few meetings we had.  I would ask a question and then there would be silence.  My co-leader would try to add something and there still would be silence.  Over time they began to open up and the group began to grow.

Time, commitment and consistency are all a major part of a small group’s growth.  Without those aspects a group would fizzle out.  On top of great dynamics groups need a conversation that will facilitate that growth.  This is where well thought out questions and curriculum come in.  Unfortunately, your questions might stump growth.  They might kill the conversation before it begins.  If you want questions that promote faith deepening conversation make sure they:

  • Create A Scenario: Sometimes you need to create tension in order to build a conversation.  Instead of creating questions that get to the point, build a hypothetical situation that will encourage the group to pull the topic apart.  For example instead of asking, “Is stealing wrong?” Paint a scenario where one of their classmates borrows a pen and never returns it.  Have them share their thoughts.
  • Address Their Mess: Sometimes questions are too safe because they don’t tackle the messiness of life.  It’s easy to dance around the issues by talking about others and what is happening in the world.  You need to make sure some of your questions address the mess in their life.  Instead of asking, “How do your classmates deal with ___?” You can ask how they are facing these issues.  You might get push back; however, then you can leverage that to peel back layers and get to the heart of the issue.
  • Provoke More Questions: It’s okay for your teens to leave the group with more questions than they arrived.  It’s like a cliff hanger in a movie that will have them wanting more.  By creating a conversation with no resolution they’ll be forced to bring the situation to their parents, friends and classmates.  If the conversation keeps moving so does their growth.

It’s easy to play it safe with questions that ask teens how they are doing.  What you need to do as a youth minister and a small group leader is peel back the layers that surround their life.  While it takes time to build up trust, the more you can challenge them with well crafted questions, the deeper you will go.

What are the essential characteristics of small group questions?