Years ago, I was trained in house church leadership by one of the nation’s top gurus Neil Cole. I took the opportunity to shadow him for several days and learned a lot about time management, house church, leadership, and group led Bible studies. At the time he was using the Discovery Questions, six questions that were easy to apply to any Bible passage and enjoy an in depth conversation and study. I look back on those days with a lot of fondness and gratitude.
Over the years, I’ve used those questions in many forums, but realized that I’ve been adapting them a bit with my experiences. So, I thought I’d share them here.
Using the Discovery Bible Study Questions … Adapted
Begin by reading a passage of Scripture. Don’t make it too long of a passage, but it should at least contain the writer’s whole thought. For instance, this evening I’ll be leading a study on James 1:19–27, a passage with a couple of threads, but really hangs well together with a single theme. Sometimes we’ll read it in a couple of different versions and I recommend making sure somebody, besides clergy, has a study Bible to reference (more about that in a bit).
Ask the Discovery Questions
- What did you like about this passage?
- What did you not like about this passage?
- What did you not understand?
- What does this passage say about God? [or Jesus or the Holy Spirit]
- What is God asking us to do?
- What are you going to do with that?
Rubrics (procedural instructions … AKA rules)
- Allow time for discussion … don’t be afraid of silence. People will talk, eventually, if you let them.
- If your goal is to multiply your small group, then get others to ask the Discovery Questions. Neil had all of us write them on the flyleaf of our Bibles … more difficult to do for those of us using Bible apps … but good practice. If there’s reticence, remind them that they’re not the resident expert, just the person with the questions.
- If you’re clergy or a staff person, do NOT answer questions about the Bible, it’s background, theology, etc. Ever. The first time you do, you’ve virtually guaranteed that no one will step up to take over leadership of the group. Why? Because you’ve just taught them that you need a degree or a position to be a leader.Instead, redirect the question “What do y’all think?” or in some instances, it’s best to point them to the study Bible. But remind them that the notes in a study Bible aren’t holy writ. They’re not scripture nor are they inspired.
- Don’t neglect the last two questions … they’re the pay dirt of it all.