Group Life 2008 – Gary Poole – Asking Great Questions

Breakout C

Description: A leader’s ability to ask great questions is key to a small group’s success. It leads to evocative storytelling, dynamic opinions, captivating discussions, and personal transparency. Learn the art of asking great questions, and the importance of listening to the answer.

Speaker’s Bio: Willow Creek‘s key evangelism leader since 1992, Garry Poole is an innovator in seeker small groups and an outreach strategist. Passionate about reaching people for Christ, Garry and his team have trained thousands of leaders to launch seeker small groups in their own settings. His award-winning book, Seeker Small Groups, provides a detailed blueprint for facilitating small group discussions that assist spiritual seekers with investigating Christianity. He also wrote The Complete Book of Questions, a collection of 1001 conversation starters, and The Three Habits of Highly Contagious Christians, a small group discussion guide to equip believers in effectively sharing their faith. Garry is the primary author of Tough Questions, a best-selling series of seven study guides, along with a leader’s guide, designed to get small groups discussing answers to major objections to the Christian faith. He authored (with Lee Strobel) Experiencing the Passion of Jesus to accompany Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion of the Christ. In 2005, it became the first discussion guide ever to receive the prestigious Charles “Kip” Jordon Christian Book of the Year award. Garry lives in suburban Chicago and consults on seeker small groups at churches around the world.


What are your expectations from this workshop?

Do you learn best by hearing yourself talk or hearing others talk? Studies show that if you remember what you say better than what others say. If you are forced to articulate something you learn better.

At your table, decide which of these 2 questions you want your table to discuss: 1) What are the benefits of asking great questions? 2) What makes great questions great? (What are the dos and don’ts behind asking great questions?)

What makes great questions great? (My Group’s Answers:)

  • Must be an open-ended question or make people think.
  • A great question must be contextually appropriate.

Other groups’ answers to Question 1:

  • It builds intimacy.
  • Self-discovery and sense of achievement.
    A good question will go a little bit deeper than a yes or no answer.
  • Builds relationships
  • Used as an icebreaker
  • Promotes authenticity
  • Promotes better discussioni
  • Helps people to discover something on their own. It promotes critical thinking.
  • Provide clarity
  • Has an entry point for everyone in the group.
  • Builds trust
  • You can get to the root of an issue.
  • It can weed out those who are interrogating you inauthentically.

Other groups’ answers to Question 2:

  • Non-confrontational, non-embarrasing, non-judgmental
  • Appropriate to the level of relationship
  • A question that causes someone to have an epiphany
  • Lead to truth
  • Leads to more conversation/discussion, keeps conversation flowing
  • Challenges beliefs that people come to the table with
  • Ask open-ended questions

Gary had us ask another person questions for a few minutes. Then we switched roles with that person.

  • Learned a great deal about the person.
  • Sometimes we ask a person questions so that we have the opportunity to tell the other person about ourselves.
  • It went from being intimidating to interesting. You weren’t sure what to ask.
  • Sometimes asking questions isn’t about you; it’s about the other person. It’s a way to serve the other person.
  • If you keep asking questions, you don’t have to do much talking. Great for introverts!
  • Can be hard to ask questions of someone you know very well. Forced to think “What don’t I know about this person?” Better to do this than ask leading questions?
  • If you ask open ended questions, the answer will lead you to other questions.
  • Great to pair an extrovert with an introvert
  • Can be riskier to ask a question of someone you know well. You have to go somewhere.
  • The person asking the questions gained the right to speak into the other person’s life.

People deeply want to be understood. When evangelizing, don’t preach, ask questions and listen. Non-Christians want to talk if they can find a Christian who will listen.

Great questions build relationships, help people go deeper, provide clarity, build trust, make you a better listener, helps you learn what people are passionate about.

Hopefully this goes from intimidating to interesting and makes you think.

People are only going to answer questions that they are comfortable answering.

Allow people the space to take the time to risk.

Focusing on the speaker (rather than yourself) leads to learning.

The process of sharing sparked others.

The best questions are the ones you don’t know the answers to.

Posted at 1:57 PM on October 17th, 2008
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