Ask Good Questions in Your Small Group

Are you in a small group Bible study? What are the most important parts of your group meetings? What helps you the most as you dig into the Bible? What is the difference between being taught the Bible and studying the Bible in your small group?

Questions! The key to a good small group Bible study (and any human interaction, frankly) is the willingness to ask and answer good questions.

Over the past three weeks I’ve written three articles over at the Knowable Word blog on how to ask good questions in a small group. That blog is focused on the Observation-Interpretation-Application (OIA) method of Bible study (which I heartily endorse), so my posts each covered one of those areas. If you have a chance, check them out!

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3 thoughts on “Ask Good Questions in Your Small Group

  1. Thanks for sharing all of those, posts, Ryan. They have a lot of helpful information.

    I had a few additional questions:

    1. How do you structure your small group time? In our group, we usually do the study first (about 45 min) and then have time where everyone from the groups is asked to share prayer requests (30-45 min). We’ve sometimes switched the order of those, which I think is sometimes helpful in applying the study more specifically to the things we’re praying with each other about. We usually have a few minutes at the beginning and/or end for socialization.

    2. Within the study portion of your small group, how do you break up the time between O, I and A? We’re somewhat limited in the time we have for the study, and I seems like one or more of steps often get cut short. When that happens with observation, it makes the second 2 a lot harder (or not based in the text). Application is probably the easiest for me to run out of time for, but doing it well often depends on have done good observation and interpretation first.

  2. Jeremy,

    1. My group usually prays for one another first and then does the Bible study. This mainly results from trying to put a firm stop time on the meeting and not wanting to cut anyone off from sharing how we can pray for/give thanks with them. In other words, it’s less awkward to cut the Bible study short than it is to cut the prayer/sharing time short. Our group is deliberately a Home Fellowship Group, not just a Bible study. We also arrange child care at our group meetings, so that’s an extra dynamic that some may not have to worry about.

    2. This is always such a tricky balance! Like you, it’s easiest for me to run out of time on application, exactly for the reasons you said. I probably need to do a better job training my group to do their own application so that when (not if) this happens it doesn’t feel like such a loss. But because I want the main point of the text to be our gathering focus, I am not willing to skimp on observation or interpretation. Ideally I suppose these three aspects would be equally weighted in terms of time, but I’ve yet to make that happen. I think it can depend on the passage too. If the main point is easily seen, then perhaps that could lead to more time for application that evening. I’d love to hear more thoughts from you on this if you have some.

    • Ryan,

      Thanks for your explanations and thoughts. I definitely agree that it’s easier to cut off the study time than the prayer time, so that makes a lot of sense. We’ve paid for child care in the past at our meetings, but this year we’re experimenting with having one of the adults do it each week. While it means you miss out about once every 2 month, I’ve like doing it that way so far.

      In any group, there are trade-offs with how you decide to spend your meeting time. I’m not sure there’s a one-size-fits-all solution, but I’ve generally pushed for less social/fellowship time to allow for more prayer and study time. Those seem to be the parts of the meeting that have the greatest impact on the group and lead to deepening relationships. And often, people are willing to stay a bit later than the time commitment or set up other meetings to get more social time together.

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