Questionable Questions

Learn about good study questions through a few negative examples.

Look at the following small group discussion questions on Matthew 16:13-20. What makes each of these a questionable question?

Questionable questions …

1. Give three reasons Jesus asked the apostles who they thought He was, and tell me how you would answer His question.

2. What are the theological implications of Peter's acclamation with regard to Trinitarian versus Unitarian doctrines, and what does that imply about the ontological argument?

3. How did you feel when you repeated the good confession?

4. What three attitudes was Jesus looking for when He asked this question?

5. What is one area in which you do not make Jesus the Lord of your life? How does that make you feel?

6. What was going through the apostle John's mind as Peter answered Jesus' question?

Problems with each question …

1. It asks more than one question and sounds like it is looking for a specific answer. (Not concise or contestable.)

2. This is over the heads of all but the Bible-college professors in your group. (Not clear and coherent, concise or creative. May also be inconsiderate.) You might not ask a question this ridiculous, but be careful of asking questions you understand but which are still beyond the understanding of most of your group.

3. Definitely not considerate, and perhaps not complete. Have all your members repeated the good confession? If yours is a new group, is this too personal too fast?

4. This is not a discussion question; it is a test. It is looking for one "correct" answer (actually three). It also is not complete. How would anyone know what attitudes Jesus was looking for? (Not concise, complete, or conversational.)

5. This asks two questions (not concise), and it is inconsiderate. Ask this in most groups only if you think your group is too big and you do not want some to come back again.

6. My answer: How should I know? It is incomplete and not very challenging either. Maybe a better way to ask this one is, "If you were the apostle John, what would be going through your mind … ?

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