As a small group leader there is no better way to get people involved and to elicit deeper, more meaningful conversations than to ask powerful questions. Jesus did this frequently (“Who do you say that I am?” “Do you love me?” Etc.). Some good conversation starters which I like to use in my leadership-discipleship coaching (which are applicable in a wide variety of circumstances – parent, manager, team leader, spouse, etc.) include:
– What is the biggest challenge facing you right now?
– What is your definition of success?
– What has been working well/poorly for you recently? Why/why not?
– What is your greatest fear as a group leader (or parent, or…)?
– What excites you most about your current situation? What is your passion?
– Who do you look up to as modeling best practices in situations like this? Why?
Try to ask open ended questions such as Why? What? How? When? If? Who?, and not Yes or No questions. There is a saying in professional coaching that “Unless the client says it, true change won’t occur.” Resist the temptation to provide pat answers, but rather guide your team to self discovery and effective solutions by asking powerful questions. And remember to allow time for a thoughtful response, and then dig deeper with follow-on questions that get to the heart of the topic being discussed. It’s not easy. It requires focus and gentle assertiveness and accountability. It takes practice in your everyday life. But, deeper, more meaningful (and perhaps life-changing) communications are possible and well worth the effort. Ask powerful, focused questions!