How Many Discussion Questions Do You Need?

If you’ve taught a Bible study, then you know how important good discussion questions are. They can make or break a study, but many group leaders commit the sin of overzealousness when it comes to discussion questions. One group leader I know brings a list of over 20 questions to his group. Other teachers I know pride themselves on producing a long list of discussion questions (sometimes upwards of 20 or more per session). Just how many good discussion questions does the average teacher need? The answer might surprise you.

Five.

Most Bible studies take about 45 minutes to complete with a group. The Bible studies that my teams produce at LifeWay are built around the premise that a Bible study will last approximately 3/4 of an hour. In some cases, group leaders have only 30 minutes to complete a Bible study.  So if a good discussion question takes the group at least 5 minutes to talk through, a set of 5 really good discussion questions will chew up 30 minutes of the group’s 45 minute study time. By the time the group leader introduces the study, and then develops the application of the study, the entire 45 minutes is gone! There is no way for a group leader to take a list of 20 “great questions” and create true discussion. They may be fact-based (text-based) questions that require single word answers, but those wouldn’t be considered discussion questions.

So as you lead your Bible study group, trust your curriculum provider and the experts on those teams who craft the discussion questions you’ll use during your group’s Bible study. 5 great questions are all you’ll need in order to have a truly great study experience.

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2 comments

  1. Our adult class has used the discussion questions format for 6 or 7 years now. Each Tuesday afternoon / evening I send out the questions via email. My experience supports your assertion that 5 questions is the optimum number. Despite knowing this to be the case, I often talk myself into having 7 or 8 questions and invariably we don’t get to the last few…or we rush through them. I am painfully learning that it is better to have a few extra minutes left after the lesson (which seldom happens even with 5 questions) than to rush through the last few questions…especially when the main truth being covered is highlighted there.

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