Have you ever been in charge of coming up with small group questions for a retreat or youth night? If you are anything like me, you want the questions to get teens talking and to have some depth to them so that everyone will get something out of small group time. Here is a new way to take the time and stress out of writing small group questions. It all comes down to the following 4 principles.
Principle 1 -People Like to Talk About Others
The first question should start off by asking about other people and how they respond to something. For instance, if you are doing a session on family, question 1 could be – How do your friends talk about their families? Principle #1 is this – people will talk about others before they will talk about themselves. If you start off asking about what others are doing or saying, it will kickstart involvement by participants in the small group.
Principle 2 – People Will Offer an Opinion
The next question should ask if they agree with their friends, peers, society or whoever you asked about in the first question. Make sure you ask them why they replied the way they did to this question as you never want to leave just a yes or no as the final answer. In our above family session scenario question 2 could be – Do you think your friends or peers at school judge family fairly, too harshly or are they on track and why? Principle #2 is this – people will normally share an opinion of things and when asked to give their opinion, they are eager to respond. This question should get more and more teens jumping in to share an opinion.
Principle 3 – People Will Share About Themselves if They Feel Safe
Now it’s time to ask a question about how they look at or feel about something. This is the where do you stand on this topic question. Continuing our scenario the question number 3 should be something like – In your opinion, what are your families greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses? Principle #3 is this – People will only start sharing at a depth level after the playing field has been established. Teens need to know from answering the prior questions that their responses are welcome and not judged. If they feel like it is an environment where they are open to share- they will share.
Principle 4 – End by Focusing on God
The faith question. It’s important that we give participants hope and point them toward God. This is where you ask them what difference God can make as an answer to the questions. For our scenario question 4 could ask – What is one thing you would ask God to do for your family? Principle #4 is this – End all small groups bringing the focus to God and his providence. Teens want to find hope when they come to our parishes – the last question should get them thinking about how more fully plugging God into whatever situations they or the world is facing, could change everything.
So that’s it – don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. 4 questions is more than enough these days. If you have a good response to question 1 you can even sometimes skip question #2. Good luck and may your small groups be blessed!