As a youth worker, I've attended and led my fair share of small group Bible studies. Some have been really good and others have simply tanked. More often than not, the ones that have tanked are the ones in which the leader fails to ask good questions.
For example, I once found myself in an adult Bible study where, for the first half of the study, the leader didn't ask a single question. People talked but the conversation was scattered, essentially changing subjects every time someone different talked.
Such conversations are really hard for people to participate in and probably even more so for me since I'm extremely introverted. As a result, I said nothing.
The leader eventually noticed this. (And seriously, props to her for noticing!) Once she did, she tried to engage me in the conversation by asking, “Jen?”
Unfortunately, I had nothing to add. So I said as much. “I've got nothing.”
This unwanted attention in a moment when I had nothing to contribute left me feeling extremely uncomfortable, making it difficult for me to participate in the remainder of the conversation.
I left the Bible study with a bad taste in my mouth.
Now, if I, as a 30-something adult felt this way as a result of a Bible study, how much more uncomfortable do our junior high and high school teens feel when we put them in that same position in our small group discussions?
That's why the quality of our questions is so important in small groups – especially ones for junior high and high school students.
By encouraging reflection and input on a particular topic, good questions invite people – even introverts – to participate in the conversation. They make it far easier for different types of people to contribute than simply letting the conversation run amuck.
So, if you want to lead a good Bible study or small group discussion do this one thing: Ask good questions.