Faith Formation

Collaborative Formation Programming: Help! I have to lead a small group

November 6, 2014
Lifelong Formation

Today we welcome guest blogger Jenny Beaumont, who serves as the Director of Adult Spiritual Formation for Christ Episcopal Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. This is the second in a three-part series by Jenny on formation programming based in small groups.

Building trust one question at a time

How many times have I heard the reluctance in someone’s voice when asked to facilitate an adult Bible study. Sometimes the reluctance is from a previous experience when the group didn’t “gel” or they feel unprepared to lead a group that will be successful. Often we forgot that like other groups who depend on a level of trust, adult small groups need to get to know each other, but often groups don’t have the luxury of time to offer a spiritual biography. Opening questions can help your group bond.

Opening questions as an on-board idea

You can use simple questions as an on-board idea to break the ice with adult groups. The question presented by the leader is easy to answer and allows people to get to know each other better. The question also gives everyone a chance to speak. Using an opening question allows people less prone to speak a way to participate verbally and the question gives people who are more likely to speak a chance to share their ideas.

Creating your opening questions

Questions can be unconnected to the lesson, or tied to what is going on in the world or a warm up for the lesson being considered that day. Start by thinking about the lesson or what is going on in the world.  If the lesson is about food, think of a question about a favorite dinner or a comfort food. If you consider about what is going on the world, you may begin to think about the Olympics and how the athletics are trained. The question could be, in which Olympic sport would you most like to participate?

Try some of these.

General Questions:

  • Tell about your favorite gift that you given or received.
  • What is your favorite Halloween candy?

Questions inspired by Scripture passages or tradition:

  • Tell about the table at which you grew up eating. What was its shape? Where did you sit?
  • Think of a movie, play or book.  What is an object that you would love to have from the movie, play or book? (examples: Kit the car, the wand from Harry Potter, Marsha Brady’s hair)
  • What is the most meaningful service you have attended. Why?
  • Think of time that you have been lost or found.  Tell about one of those times in your life.

Questions inspired by the world:

  • Considering what it is like outside, what is your best “snow story.”
  • If you were to win the Oscars, who would you thank in your acceptance speech?
  • Where and when were you baptized?
  • Tell about a mentor or teacher who had a positive impact on your life and why they are important to you.
  • What is something that you have learned recently?
  • If you were to give a 20 something advice in 2 or 3 sentences, what would it be? Or If you were to give a 80 something advice in 2 or 3 sentences, what would it be?
Give it a try.

Soon everyone will be engaged and connected. After a while, ask if participants would like to bring the opening questions for the next session.  For a longer list of suggestions, email me.

What opening questions have you used in a small group setting?

David Stickley

Formation Associate