One of the biggest challenges of leading small groups is keeping the discussions interactive. If that doesn't happen—if people don't interact with the material and with each other—then the group simply becomes a class focused on you as the teacher, and people can easily lose interest. But when a discussion is interactive, it can leave everyone wanting to come back for more because the members get to be involved, the discussion applies to their specific lives, and it's just more fun.
The good news is that the key to interactive discussions has very little to do with you as the leader having lots of knowledge and answers. Instead, it simply revolves around the skill of asking good questions—a skill you can develop as a leader.
Two Types of Questions
There are basically 2 types of questions: closed and open-ended. Can you guess which one leads to more discussion? Closed questions have a right or a wrong answer—usually a very short one. They often lead to the uncomfortable "so who's going to answer this?" feeling within the group. You've probably seen several closed questions if you use traditional Bible study guides.
To make sure you've got a handle on the difference, let's try a little activity. First, read this passage from Philippians 4:4–9:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, ...