Group members and group leaders have one thing in common: they crave great discussions. Discussions help us see truth for the first time or the first time in a long time. So how do we leaders cultivate conversation that changes lives?
1. Use great questions. The new Bible Studies for Life Adult studies base each session on six well-honed questions. What makes them well honed? They’re the cream of the crop, chosen from dozens of submitted questions. They’re irresistible and multi-layered, inviting response from all levels of spiritual interest and disinterest. Each question is tested to be certain it can be answered at least three times. At least one question per session has an emotive connection, moving us from the theoretical to the Bible-living domain. The questions give opportunity for Holy Spirit movement rather than stop with simple discussion.
2. Once you ask a question, refuse to answer your own question. Count to ten. Or to 110. Then phrase the question a different way. And again. But don’t answer your own question. We all know which leaders really want us to talk and which leaders prefer to answer their own questions.
3. Once you ask a question wait for at least three answers. Most groups have members who pride themselves in answering questions, or who squirm and speak. The rest of the group learns to let these speakers talk for the group. So once the easy speakers take a turn, ask, “Who might add something else?”
4. Affirm all comments. Your group member will test the water with small answers. Phrases like “thanks for contributing” or “your insight helps all of us think about that” will keep the discussion going.
5. Build something together. “Jamal added a new facet to what Jennifer just said.” Or “I like how the big picture of living out this Bible passage is coming together.” Or “Who will add another facet?”
The goal of conversation is to give opportunity for the Holy Spirit to move. So become a facilitator who gets out of the way and lets the group hear from God himself.
You truly do stand on holy ground when you lead a Bible discussion.
Karen Dockrey is a content editor for Bible Studies for Life Adult. She’s written over 30 books to equip group leaders, many of which are available from LifeWay. She has a passion for living the Bible and a heart for dark chocolate.