Today’s teaching tip is about helping you to ask a better kind of question of your group members. If you lead a Bible study group for kids, students, or adults, there’s one type of question you’ll want to master. It’s the kind of question that can help a group member clarify his or her thinking while at the same time generating more critical thinking on their part while boosting discussion. I’m talking about the one type of question that boosts discussion in your group: the follow-up question.
If you ask your group members to respond to a question, it’s a matter of time (probably a short period of time) until one of them responds with an answer that is not quite on target. Or is short. Or shows a basic understanding that could be enhanced.
To help the group member who responds to your question with enthusiasm, but offers a response where you sense there is more learning that could take place, use a follow-up question like one of these to help them continue to think about their answer. You can even aim these follow-up questions to the group:
- “Tell me more about that…” (this is one of my faves)
- “I hadn’t thought of it in that way…help me understand your thinking.”
- “I like that answer. How does it reflect the Bible’s teaching on that subject?”
- “Class, you’ve heard Johnny’s response. What do you have to add to his answer?”
By asking a person (or group) to continue responding to an answer will boost discussion and it will also help you refine answers as people begin to think beyond surface responses. Follow-up questions won’t shut down discussion, but will take them to new levels. Nor will you become guilty of “leading the witness” questions and making the person or group feel like you are trying to elicit a particular response. Follow-up questions can truly help a person think more critically about their response and how it does or does not align with Scripture.
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