Part of preparing every lesson we teach and/or facilitate during the course of our group meetings are questions for specific application. If we lead a Community Group, the last thing we want is to instruct our group members in the truth of God, only for them to fail to understand “how” that truth intersects with their daily lives. Therefore, we prepare “application” questions that help group members wrestle with God and the truth that has just been delivered. Yet, how often as a leader do we feel like the application question we prepared only scratched the surface of how a particular truth could become transformational in someone’s life. And, while we might know that a person’s answer is veiled in vague examples and generalities, we feel the pressure to move on, so we might finish the lesson. What if we didn’t move on to the next question…what if we camped out on one particular group member’s answer diving deeply into their journey, granting permission for other participants to open up as equally. This will require a commitment to “the follow-up question”.
There are at least three factors that will enhance your ability to ask good follow-up questions of your group members…
1) Confidence in the presence of God
We must know that God is present right then in the midst of our group, and in the midst of our lesson. I am often guilty of thinking that God is present in my lesson preparation, and He is present after the group to make the truth grow in someone’s heart, but how cognizant am I to God’s abiding presence right in the middle of the group time. Hebrews 4:12-13 says that, “The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” As you are teaching/facilitating your lesson, the Spirit of God is ahead of you, stirring the people and piercing their souls with God’s Word. You must ask the question then, “how is the Spirit stirring the people?”
2) Commitment to be Spirit-Led
One of the words we see repeated often in the book of Acts in association with the releasing of the Spirit is…POWER! Power to save people from their sins; power to heal people’s diseases; power to cast out demons…the same kind of power we saw in Jesus’ ministry. When we cooperate with where the Spirit is already at work, and we humbly acknowledge that we can do nothing apart from him, then we see God’s power unleashed! Unfortunately, that isn’t something we plan for in our lesson plans.
3) Listening with ‘Transcendent Curiosity’
A quick survey of Jesus’ encounters with people during His earthly ministry will surface His commitment to being present and being unhurried. Many times His ministry to individuals appeared to happen as He was on the way somewhere else. Yet, every individual interaction, where He was present and unhurried, brought the Kingdom of God to bear in that person’s life. What if we lead our group meetings the same way? Christian counselor, Larry Crabb, coined the phrase – transcendent curiosity – to define how to listen to someone as they share about their journey with Christ. When someone shares deeply about what’s going on in their life, our temptation is to either provide empathy, or to give advice so that the person “feels better”. What if, instead, we listened intently to what the person is saying, while discerning where and how the Spirit of God is leading this person to greater and greater devotion, surrender, and trust of God. As group leaders, we have to ask ourselves the question as someone is responding to one of our questions… “Father, what are you up to in this person’s life? And how can I cooperate with your Spirit to see your Kingdom come in him/her?”