I used to write a lot of small group curriculum for the high school ministry at Saddleback Church. After a while I went back and studied the kinds of questions I was asking, particularly application questions. Below is a tool I put together to help others write or ask questions for their youth ministry small group/Bible study discussions.

I’d never use all of these questions in one sitting. I’d pick the ones that were most applicable to the topic and best fit my group. These questions don’t FLOW WELL at all because they are general. I’d change the question to be as conversational as possible.

1. What is X? How would you define X? What did today’s lesson teach about X?

Let’s use “self control” as an example:

What is self control? How would you define it, in your own words, with just a sentence or two? Being as specific as possible, what did today’s lesson/scripture/message teach about self control?

2. Why is X important? Why do you feel X is important? Why does God feel X is important?

Why is self control important in our world today? Why do you feel self control is personally important for you? Why do you think God wants us to have self control?

3. A life with X would look like . . . The consequences would be . . .

Think of a person you know who has a lot of self control, describe their life. How does their self control impact the major parts of their life? How do you think they got to be self controlled?

4. A life without X would look like . . . The consequences would be . . .

Engage your imagination, what would a person’s life look like if they had absolutely zero self control? What impact would this have on their life….their relationships…their responsibilities?

5. What are some common barriers to having X? What do you struggle with in achieving X? What are some “enemies” of X? What are some situations that make X difficult?

What’s the enemy of self control? What keeps most people from having self control? When do you find you have the greatest struggles with being self control? Be specific: what are the places or people or situations where you find you’re finding it most difficult to be self controlled?

6. Going to the extremes, too much of X is? (consequences)

Is it possible to have TOO MUCH self control? What does that look like? Do you ever struggle with being “too controlled?” (if that’s even possible)

7. Going to the extremes, too little of X is? (consequences)

[this doesn’t really fit “self control,” since no one would want to give up their free will and become a robot….. maybe it could mean too impulsive …]

8. What are some false “applications” of X?

Is it possible to be really self controlled, but not in a good way? Let’s get the heart of the issue, what ought to motivate a person for being self controlled? Is it possible to be motivated for the wrong reasons?

9. How does God want to build X into your life?

Based on our study and discussion tonight, how do you think God wants to build self control into your life? How has God taught you self control in the past?

10. Do you feel like your life is an example of X? What have you done to get, maintain X?

This may be tough, but let’s do a little evaluation. How self controlled are you? Consider the last few days or maybe two weeks, have you been self controlled? Have you been self controlled with a pure heart or was it for less than pure motives?

11. What are some practical ways you can be held accountable for/to X?

What is one or two practical ways we can hold each other accountable to be self controlled? What is one or two specific areas where you need accountability for being more self controlled?

12. How can you work to build X in others? (or How are you building the opposite of X in others?)

One of the great things about being a child of God is that he uses us to influence and impact one another. We all help each other grow. How could you be a person who helps others be more self controlled? Obviously the point of “self controlled,” is to make better decisions as an individual, but how can you help encourage this quality in others?