Jesus often used questions to teach. Why?
I believe it was because simply teaching by telling doesn’t engage the mind and heart nearly to the degree questioning does.
Group materials designed for churches often use questions but not always to the fullest extent. The breakdown in the effective use of questioning tends to happen when groups meet to discuss these questions.
The truth is many leaders tend to do too much of the talking and the group suffers. Effective group leaders minimize providing answers themselves and put priority on encouraging discussion among group members.
Below are three reasons questions make for more effective groups. The books and DVDs you have for Peace after Divorce makes it easy to implement these concepts. Yet, it helps to remain mindful of the importance of facilitating group discussion rather than doing all of the talking yourself.
1. Good questions increase learning. It’s amazing how much a person can internalize learning when given good questions to ponder. Answering questions helps people form and explore their thoughts and feelings. Not only that, thought-provoking questions allow a learner to personalize what is learned, reflect, and then prayerfully talk with God about how to implement new insights.
2. Focused discussion of questions creates productive group dynamics. If you never hear what other people think about a topic you remain limited to your own perspective. That perspective may be what is holding you back from growth and healing. Proverbs tells us, “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” Discussing answers to questions not only allows participants to air their own thoughts and feelings but also to learn from others. In a lecture, people become passive observers.
In a properly facilitated discussion group, people with a shared concern develop
a problem-solving dynamic that has far more impact than any lecture.
In a mutually respectful discussion group participants are free to share ideas and learn from one another. Each person is prompted by the discussion to consider the validity of their own thoughts as differing perspectives are shared by other members of the group. Caring ensues and mutual support blossoms.
To help this process along it is important to have inspiring content to set the stage for discussion. Written discussion guidelines are critical too. Such guidelines establish mutually respectful and focused communication within the group.
Most importantly, the role of the leader shifts from authority to a discussion facilitator who is comfortable remaining silent while people take time to think before answering.
3. Effective discussions build community. As people share they learn from one another and bond. Bonding with others who are empathetic because they have similar experiences creates an amazing sense of mutual support. Sharing common emotions and experiences sets the stage for creating trusting open relationships that extend beyond group sessions. A network of healthy support emerges.
Structured Questioning Matters
Understanding the value of sound questioning in your Peace after Divorce group is important. You’ll become a better discussion facilitator and find facilitated takes the stress off of you. You no longer have to have all the answers. Better yet, your group will spend more time internalizing the material and will learn from others while building a strong sense of community.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
–Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV)
About the Author
Renee Smith Ettline is founder of After Divorce Ministries, LLC and author of the award-winning book, Peace after Divorce. To learn more about Renee visit our About Us page. To contact Renee, Click Here.