Small groups are only as good as the questions asked in them. If that’s the case, then what exactly constitutes a good question?

Good questions…

  1. Are open-ended. They cannot be answered with yes or no. This is important because when given the opportunity to answer a question with yes or no, a junior high student will always take it. That, in turn, stifles a conversation before it even begins.

  2. Ask Why? So often, teens who have been raised in the church can repeat the “right” answer, or at the very least, the answer leaders want to hear. Unfortunately, teens don’t always believe what they’re saying. Asking Why? pushes teens to actually think about what they’re saying and decide for themselves whether or not they believe it, something that’s an important step in taking ownership of their faith.

  3. Make people think. Though it’s OK to ask some comprehension questions to make sure that students understand a topic or Bible passage, the best questions don’t have obvious answers. Instead, they make people go deeper and think about things in new ways.

  4. Flow logically. Though teens’ answers often seem random, your questions shouldn’t be. A good small group discussion asks questions in a logical, ordered way to help teens focus and understand where you’re coming from.

  5. Are specific. Leaders often think vague, general questions like “What did you think?” are the best questions because they’re broad enough to be answered in a variety of ways. In actuality, the opposite is true. Vague questions elicit vague responses from teens because they leave teens feeling unsure of what is being asked of them. In contrast, specific questions help teens focus on a specific topic or idea, making it easier for them to respond with depth and honesty. 

  6. Invite vulnerability. Let’s be honest. The desire to grow in their faith isn’t actually what drives most teens to youth ministry events. Instead, it’s their friends. As a result, in addition to encouraging teens to grow in their faith, the best small group discussions – and therefore, the best questions – foster relationships between teens. To do this, some of your questions must be personal. Such questions invite teens to be vulnerable with one another. That, in turn, allows them to face the tough stuff happening in their lives knowing they’re supported and cared for by their community of faith 

  7. Prompt and invite more questions. Often, one of the goals of small group leaders is to make sure teens leave small groups with no unanswered questions. Maybe our goal should be exactly the opposite: That teens leave small groups with more questions than they entered it with. Unanswered questions cause teens to think and to pray. They encourage teens to continue digging into an issue throughout the week, on their own by studying Scripture further, or in conversations with their friends, family, and you. In addition to helping teens decide for themselves what they believe, such a practice also helps expand their faith beyond Sundays and Wednesdays.

To you, what else constitutes a good question?