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You Only Need These 3 Questions to Lead a Group Discussion

Written by Bob Martin on


It’s easy to overcomplicate things. In an effort to lead well, I often over-think, over-plan, and over-prepare. But sometimes simple methods are the most effective. Although many strategies are useful for leading a Small Group in discussion, in my experience I have seen how three simple questions can create a helpful walk-through for how to understand and apply God’s Word together.

Question 1: What do you see?

Every gathering involves opening up God’s Word. We’re not just gathered to catch up or share our opinions. We want God to speak.

That’s why the first question has to do with observation. What does everyone observe in the text? What pops out? What seems important or unusual? When we focus the attention on the text itself, we begin our discussion about what the passage says and not just our own agenda.

Question 2: What questions do you have?

This second question has to do with interpretation. We want to be curious people. Every passage will have interesting elements that bubble up, like:

  • Why does the author use this term here?
  • What does this mean?
  • How are these parts related?
  • Are there other verses (even in this same book) that help us understand this verse better?

Once somebody asks a question, they are then required to be the first person to try to answer it! You can ask them, “Great question. What do you think? You start us.” This allows the person to give a first stab and not just dish out inquiries.

Question 3: How does this apply to our lives?

The final question has to do with application. We aren’t a healthy Small Group if every gathering doesn’t eventually point us to applying God’s Word to our real lives. If we don’t talk through application, we might make a helpful observation, but we will walk away without being changed by it (see James 1:23-25).

If we are discussing a text that has already been preached on in a recent sermon, we will be helped along in some of our observations and interpretations. But when we get to application, everyone in the group needs to dig in and be ready to share how these truths affect their lives.

  • What decisions should I make differently?
  • Which relationship in my life does this touch on?
  • How does this change how I use my time this week?

Once we’ve discussed and shared applications, this gives helpful items to then pray for one another in closing.

Simple Structure, Endless Opportunities

As a leader, we want to be prepared. But we don’t have to feel the pressure to come up with the most interesting or innovative questions in order to lead our groups in discussion. Oftentimes, there will only be time to ask a few questions as the discussion time flies by. Remember, we just need to facilitate conversations that help us see, search, and do God’s Word.

Bob Martin

Bob first joined staff at College Park as a Pastoral Resident in 2011 and has served in several important roles since that time. He now serves as the Pastor of Membership & Connection. Bob is passionate about seeing men and women enter into community with others to find hope together. He enjoys spending time with his wife, family, and friends.

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