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How to Ask Good Questions in a Group

Why ask questions? This is a good question indeed!

Questions provoke thinking and reflection. Good questions provoke good thinking and reflection. In a small group discussion context, we can ask good questions of the Bible text that we are exploring. We can further ask good questions of each other as we bridge applying the Bible to our world and our lives.  

Good questions set up a conducive environment for honest and robust discussion. Good questions lead to good conversations and when done sensitively, pave the way for deep, heart-felt and vulnerable sharing. 

Types of Questions 

Closed Questions  

  • tend to draw out a short focused answer e.g. “yes” or “no” in response to “did you…? Would you…?”  
  • are usually easy to answer, because the choice of answer is limited e.g. from a list of options such as “Would you like a,b, or c…?”  
  • can be useful early in group settings and conversations to encourage participation  
  • can be useful in info-finding situations e.g. “what is your name….? where did you stay when you were 7 years old?”  

Open Questions 

  • allow for wider responses  
  • lots of different types of open question; some are more closed than others!  
  • Might include questions to share about “Who, What, Where, When, Why, How….”  
  • Open questions can be “leading or loaded” pointing the respondent in a certain direction. Try asking in such a way that does not come across as having a pre-judgement (e.g. “How are you spending your free time lately?” vs “Tell us how you’ve been spending your free time.” ) 

Wide Open Questions 

“Any thoughts about….”  

To encourage your group to open up more authentically, we can also ask good questions to delve deeper into issues of our emotional well-being, our sense of meaning and significance, or our aspirations and dreams. Here are some examples you can try: 

  • What is important about this to you? 
  • What does this mean to you? 
  • What area of your life does this impact? 
  • How did that make you feel? 
  • What insights about yourself did you gain today?
  • What would you like to be different about your situation? 
  • What is significant to you about your insight? 

May God grant you wonderful conversations as you begin to ask good questions! 

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Daily Devo

Daily Devotional Journal

Scripture:
Jonah 1:4-16; Psalm 86:11
Tue, 25 January 2022

The Fearful Men

Observation:

How did the sailors’ fear change from verse 5 to verse 16?

Deeper Reflection
THE NARRATIVE OF THE STORM AND SAILORS IS FULL OF irony and comedy. Picture the drama. The seasoned mariners were scared out of their wits (v.5). In an utter frenzy, they dumped cargo, desperately trying to save themselves. In contrast, Jonah the rebellious prophet was oblivious to the danger, sleeping in the bowels of the ship. The mariners were frantically calling out to their gods. But the prophet of the LORD was asleep. And so the flabbergasted captain came to Jonah and commanded him, “Arise, call out to your god!” (v.6). This is a parody of the divine command that Jonah rejected: arise,…and call out against Nineveh (Jon 1:2).65 After an exercise of lot-casting to determine who is responsible for the disaster, the sailors discovered that it is Jonah, who then disclosed, “I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land” (v.9). Jonah’s talk about “fear” must have sounded incredibly hollow to the sailors who knew about his wilful rebellion!66 It was them, and not the LORD’s prophet, who understood the gravity of what Jonah had done (v.10). Another irony of the story is that because of Jonah’s irreverence, the sailors came to genuinely revere his God (v.16). How about us? Are we like Jonah, professing to fear God but treating God flippantly? Pastor Timothy Keller defines the fear of the Lord as being “overwhelmed with wonder before the greatness of God and His love”67. Let us ask the LORD for an undivided heart that truly fears His name (Psa 86:11).
65 D. J. Wiseman, T. D. Alexander, and B. K. Waltke, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah, Tyndale Old Testament commentaries v. 26 66 Ibid., 116. 67 Timothy Keller and Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage (New York: Dutton, 2011), 68.
Application:

What does the fear of the Lord mean to me and how does it impact the way I live?

Prayer:
Write a prayer to God as your response from your meditation on and application of the Scriptures.
Prayer Pointers:
  • Give thanks and praise
  • Pray for pastors and staff: That they will have an undivided heart that fears the name of the LORD (Psa 86:11)
  • Pray for significant people
  • Pray for those in need
  • Pray for self

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