Do you not love that blank look on the faces of your small group members when you ask a question during the lesson portion of the gathering? As facilitators we often ask preplanned questions from the lesson, and at times, we may throw out a rather impromptu question and then wait for their profound answers.
As the silence extends well beyond the comfortable pause often needed to contemplate my brilliant question, I can become frustrated that I am not getting the feedback I was hoping for. However, I have learned over time—and was reminded once again during a guest appearance at a small group meeting—the importance of answering my own question.
In fact, I would venture to say that as a facilitator, teacher, and leader, I should have a personal and well-thought-out answer for every question I ask my group. Of course, it is difficult to plan for an impromptu question that comes to mind while teaching, but even for those questions I should try to answer first.Effective leaders shepherd the conversation to discover revelation in Scripture. Click To Tweet
It is unfair to expect members of the group to have an answer within five seconds to a question they have not considered before. As facilitator I have had the opportunity to consider the questions for several hours, or hopefully even several days.
Building a Small Group Community
We must remember the purpose of questions is not only to help create interaction and build community,
As a facilitator be willing to share answers to your own questions.
but it is one of the best ways we help our group members learn and process the information. Therefore, we need their input and involvement. They need to hear themselves answer the questions and form opinions on the material being presented, so they process it with their minds and get it down inside their hearts.
The quickest way to discourage sharing in a small group is to be unwilling, as the facilitator, to share answers to your own questions.
Why Facilitators Should Answer Their Own Questions
When I am the first one to answer after asking a question, two important things happen:
- First, I am able to set the direction for the question and get the group thinking down a certain path. As facilitator, I am not necessarily the expert on every subject, but I should have an idea of where the discussion should go—I am ultimately leading them to the truth of God’s Word. We cannot just push for discussion for discussion’s sake; there must be a purpose.
Discussions that morph into whatever the group desires are not productive; they will prevent the group from experiencing biblical truth and spiritual transformation. Effective leaders shepherd the conversation to discover revelation in Scripture.
- When I am the first to answer the question I pose, I give time for the group members to think and form their own answers. I remove the pressure to respond immediately, and they are able to formulate their own thoughts. The more time they have and the more they relate to other group members’ answers, the better their answers will be.
As you prepare for your next small group meeting, don’t just skim over the questions; take time to formulate your own responses and seek to share them with the purpose of both setting direction and inspiring response.
Jonathan McClintock is an author and the adult editor for Word Aflame Curriculum and The Discipleship Project. He also serves as campus pastor at Urshan College and Urshan Graduate School of Theology. Jonathan and his family live in St. Charles, Missouri.
Resources and Links
Discipleship Now (Apostolic media for small groups)
To read more by Jonathan McClintock, click here.