3 Kinds of Questions that Kill Discussion

Today’s post is taken from a book authored by a friend of mine, Sam O’ Neal. Sam wrote the book Field Guide for Small Group Leaders, and I have found it to be a very helpful resource.

Sam helps us understand how some questions we might ask in our groups actually kill discussion. Here is what Sam has to say about questions we should avoid if we want to boost discussion:

There are several different types of questions that can kill almost any discussion in any small group. I’ve listed some of the most common below.

Idiot Questions. These are questions that have extremely obvious answers – so obvious that only an idiot could get them wrong. Unfortunately, many small group leaders are fond of these types of questions…Here are a couple of examples: What do we put in the mouths of horses to make them obey us? Is it true that no human can tame the tongue?

Unreasonable Questions: These are questions that no one in the group will be able to answer unless they speak  Hebrew or have access to a Bible commentary. Unreasonable questions often make their way into a small group discussion when group leaders spend a lot of time in preparation and get a little overzealous about what they’ve learned. For example, “How would a first-century interpretation of the word tongue impact our understanding of this passage?”

Leading the Witness Questions:  Some discussion questions are phrased in such a way that it is obvious the group leader is seeking a specific answer, or that the group leader wants to steer the discussion in a certain direction. This is a bad idea…group leaders who ask these kinds of questions behave like sheep dogs attempting to herd other people toward their way of thinking.

There are other kinds of questions that kill discussion, and Sam addresses those in his book. I encourage you to pick up a copy and put it in your personal library.


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