How to answer tricky questions in your Bible study group, Part 1

“Have you stopped beating your wife?”

“Have you been able to stop kicking your dog?”

These questions are designed to put a person on the spot – no matter how the person answers, they appear guilty! Sometimes we ask questions like these for fun – just to put a friend on the spot. But it’s not so fun when you are asked a tricky question as you’re leading your Bible study group. What do you do then?

Over the next two days I am going to share 8 ways to deal with tricky questions. I want to break the topic of answering tricky questions into two general categories of questions, then give you four ways to deal with them. Here goes!

Answering Tricky but Innocent Questions

This is the first category of tricky questions. These kind of tricky questions are not asked to trip you up. They are not posed in order to intentionally get the study off track. They occur when someone in your group asks an awkward question at an inopportune time. Here are four ways to deal with these types of innocent, but tricky, questions:

  • ADMIT – Learn to use three powerful little words: “I don’t know.” It’s OK to admit that you don’t have an immediate response for the person. Use this when you really don’t care to address the question. You’ll earn people’s trust and respect by not simply making up an answer – because everyone knows when we do that.
  • AFFIRM – Say something to the person who’s asked the question like, “That’s a good question,” or “You’ve helped me see this in a different way.” Affirm their question, but you don’t necessarily stop to address it. Move on. Keep the lesson on track. Affirm the person by saying, “You’ve given me something to ponder.”
  • ASK – This is where it gets fun! Turn the tables, as Jesus did (Luke 20) and simply say, “Now that’s an interesting question – how would you answer it?” 9 times out of 10 the person is eager to share their insight. They asked you, but now you’ve asked them.
  • ACKNOWLEDGE – This is a cousin to the first solution above, Admit. The difference here is that you admit your lack of knowledge and you commit to do further study. You simply acknowledge that you don’t have an answer, but you also promise to do some further study and get back to the person and/or the group.

In tomorrow’s blog post, I’ll give you part 2 of this series and show you how to deal with the other kind of question you’ll be asked: the malevolent question. These types of questions have a bite, and they are asked by a not-so-well-meaning person in your group. Jesus had to deal with these all the time, and I’ll show you where, plus how He dealt with them.

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