Thursday, August 30, 2012

Three Questions to Discuss in Every Small Group Gathering

Some discussion questions are better than others. We’ve all experienced the reality of this in one small group gathering or another. You know, the fill-in-the-blank answer that’s always “Jesus”. The leading question that seeks an overly touchy-feely response that would make even the most tender-hearted person blush. The question that’s overly pushy in offering an application for everyone in the room. 

With this in mind, a small group leader and I discussed three questions that should be at the core of every small group gathering. Here they are:

A Head Question:
Every time your small group meets, you should strive to engage with the intellect (the head). We should be challenged to consider the truth presented to us from the Scriptures or other Bible-based materials about the character of God. Whether your group is a collection of mature believers, people who are new to the faith journey, or somewhere in the middle, it’s always helpful to consider afresh who God is.

This model is something the Apostle Paul regularly used when he was writing one of his epistles. He began with a truth/fact of about God, before moving to his heart-level impassioned plea for action.

A Heart Question:
This is the question that brings authenticity and rootedness to your small group community. When you use discussion questions that cause group members to tell a bit about themselves—not just about what they think—you’re creating authenticity. Authenticity creates depth. Depth grows roots. Discussion questions that cause people to examine their own lives, their marriage, their parenting, etc. Questions that stir something deep within our hearts, bringing real-life to the forefront of group life.

A Hand Question:
After the head has been convinced of a biblical truth, and the heart has been compelled to respond, the hands should be challenged to act. Always close out your meeting time with discussion questions that lead a Christ follower to some practical application. This will help take the discussion from theory to practice, from simply a nice idea kicked around in someone’s living room to a gracious act at the local community center that brings God glory.

These three questions, in some form, may already be part of the discussion questions for your current study material. Likely, you’ll need to tweak the questions to make them engage a head, heart, and hand question structure.

Give it a try. You’re small group time just might become that much richer!


BCawley said...

Excellent post, Rob! Thanks for the reminder of this simple, yet profound framework. I have found that sometimes the Holy Spirit doesn't work in a linear order (Head -> Heart -> Hand) and that it is helpful to allow the Spirit to engage our groups as He will. Sometimes it will be the heart leading through an emotional experience and we then need to follow up with engaging the head and the hand. Other times it will be the hand leading maybe through participation in a service project - then we need to work through the head and heart implications.

I have actually been incorporating this more and more in my college teaching as well. Student engagement and learning takes place when we can engage with all three aspects. Thanks again! Great work, brother!

Steve Gier said...

Dittos Rob...

Reminds me of this quote from Josh McDowell:

"My heart cannot rejoice in what my mind rejects."

Geoffsnook said...

Love the Head, Heart, Hands framework. Helpful for every ministry to think through. Helpful in our sanctification as well. Thanks for sharing. Good stuff bro.

War the Rays and Tigers meeting in the playoffs!