|Enhance Your Sunday School Lesson By Asking Good Questions||| Print ||
There is nothing worse than trying to engage Sunday School class members in discussion only to have them stare blankly at you in absolute silence. This silence does not always communicate indifference, fear, or outright unwillingness to participate. It may be that they feel they have nothing to contribute or that they haven’t been engaged. Learning always takes place at a higher level when the Sunday School class members are actively engaged in the lesson and in discussion with one another. This discussion is not simply an opportunity for everyone to share their opinion, but an opportunity to strive together to understand and apply the biblical text. This is the goal of studying the Bible in a Sunday School class setting.
So how is this goal accomplished? One way to lead the learners to engage the lesson is by asking good questions to draw them into the discussion. Asking questions, rather than just sharing information, will help lead class members to discover for themselves what the text is saying and will lead to a more dynamic class. Asking good questions will not only lead the class members to learn new things, but live what they learn. There are four types of questions that will aid in the journey of discovery for your class members: Icebreaker/Launching questions, Observation/Informational questions, Interpretation questions, and Application questions.
Icebreaker or Launching questions are fun, informal questions for the purpose of getting discussion started. Once people get started talking, they are far more likely to remain engaged. These questions will enhance the fellowship of the class and can also reveal a lot about the class members. Here are some examples of launching questions to get a class talking.
These questions are used for the purpose of class members’ drawing out facts from scripture. Anyone can answer these questions because the answers are found directly in the text. Observation questions are who, what, when, and where questions that will help better understand the facts of the biblical story. The class member should be able to look at the text and find the answer simply by reading the text. What does the text say?
Interpretation questions seek to get at the meaning of the text. These questions are the “how,” “why,” and the “what does this mean” questions. In Phil. 2:7 it says that Jesus “emptied himself.” To say that Jesus emptied himself would be an observation from the text. To determine what Jesus “emptying himself” means would be an interpretation question. The interpretation questions lead the class member to move beyond simple observations to grappling with what the text actually means. This interpretation will eventually lead to more understanding of who Jesus is and what he has done for us, which will in turn affect how we live and apply scripture.
Application questions move the class member beyond gleaning information from the biblical text and beyond what the text actually means to how the text affects how we live. Jesus said in Matthew 5:13 that we are the salt of the earth. How does being the salt of the earth change how we live and influence/impact this world? What things need to happen in our lives to enable us to influence this earth rather than be influenced by it? These questions tend to be more personal in nature and will cause the class members to do personal reflection and evaluation. These application questions will tend to either end up in lively discussion or silent personal reflection. Either response is a good response if it produces change.
Look for ways to liven up discussion in your class by engaging your members in dialogue. Help them to discover truth and feed themselves rather than feeding them all the time. The more engaged they become the more dynamic the class will be and the more life change will occur.
John Caddy serves as a member of the ABSC Evangelism and Church Growth team in the area of Adult Sunday School and Small Group ministry. He served nine years as Associate Pastor of Students at Wynne Baptist Church and four years as Pastor of Church Growth and Evangelism at the Indian Springs Baptist in Bryant. It is his passion to serve Arkansas churches and their staff. He and his wife Lana, along with their four children, reside in Bryant, Arkansas.
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