Evaluating Group Discussions

How well do you practice these principles of great small-group discussion?

The first small-group discussion I led took approximately 15 minutes. No one had explained to me how to get a discussion going. Instead I was handed a list of questions and Scriptures to look up. My goal was to get through all of it as quickly as possible so that we could have our snacks and go home.

Since then I've learned a few principles about how to lead a good discussion, several of which are listed below. Use this assessment to get a sense of your strengths and weaknesses as a discussion leader.

Good Questions Trump Information

Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree
I use open-ended questions that require more than a "yes or no" answer.
I almost never answer my own question.
I don't assume that my interpretation of a text is the correct one.
I usually wait until the end of a discussion to offer my opinion.

Restate a Question that Doesn't Work at First

When I ask a question, I allow enough time for the group to process their answers and speak.
I don't skip a question when it doesn't seem to be working.
If a question isn't generating discussion, I can restate it to help the group try again.

Communicate Love, Not Judgment

I never make light of or ridicule a group member's answer to a question.
When a group member offers an opinion that is an obvious heresy, I don't avoid the issue.
I feel confident in my ability to bring doctrinal discussions back to the root of Scripture.
When encountering a heretical or disruptive group member, I offer to continue the conversation later so that the group is not derailed.

Keep the Discussion on Track

I understand the fine line between allowing discussion to flow and degenerating into tangents or useless banter.
When I identify a statement or opinion that is off the subject, I am able to steer the discussion back on track.
I bathe our group's discussion times in a lot of prayer.

—Johannah Reardon; copyright 2010 by the author and Christianity Today International.

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