Five questions you can use at least once a month.
Asking questions is the best way to teach adults. And a few questions can be used over and over and never get old. Here are four questions you ought to ask your group regularly.
1. How are you doing these days in terms or your time alone with God?
I have asked groups to discuss this at conferences many times at it is always a positive, encouraging thing. Most of us want to have a quiet time. We just need a little help from our friends. We need to encourage one another to have a quiet time. One way to do this is to ask the questions regularly: how are you doing these days?
The quiet time is the fundamental discipline of the Christian life. We want to create people who start their day with the Bible on their lap. Most people need a little help from their friends to do this.
I have found that in in own life my consistency in time alone with God ebbs and flows a bit. For me, I tend to do better when I am at home and worse when I am on the road. Trouble is, I am on the road alot. I need a little help from my friends.
Every month or so, ask your group: what are you reading? What have you read lately that was meaningful to you? Have you memorized any verses? What are your praying about?
Of course, it works best when this question flows naturally out of the text. The good news is, it often does. Whenever the subject of the Bible or prayer comes up, ask your group: how are you doing these days in your time alone with God?
2. What do you love about following Christ? What has been great about it recently?
Every so often, we just need to review the size of the stockpile. We all have a tendency toward negativity. We all tend to complain a bit. Gratefulness is one of the healthiest disciplines we can develop as an individual, and as a group.
What do you love about being a Christian? Here is a short list that comes to my mind:
I love having a Bible that instructs me on how to live.
I love sensing the presence of God in my life on a daily basis.
I love enjoying Christian teaching. We have such great Christian teaching these days in books, radio, podcasts and other media. What a time to be alive!
I love serving the Lord. Jesus said as we engage in the task of making disciples, that He will be with us. We know He is with us always, but there is a special sense of His presence when we are serving Him.
I love the sense of calling and purpose--a reason to get out of bed in the morning. A Christian needn't ever be bored.
I love the church and the fellowship of Christian friends.
I love the knowledge that I am forgiven of all my sins.
I love the knowledge that death is not the ultimate enemy. (What would you pay for that?)
I love knowing that God is God and I am not. I love resting in the fact that He is boss. The world is not running recklessly out of control. There is a throne in heaven and Someone is sitting on it. Not pacing the floor and wringing His hands. Sitting. Relaxed. In charge.
I love the promises of God, especially Romans 8.28. Life is hard; often very hard. In a difficult world it is great to know that there is a God who is working all things together for God as we love Him and follow His calling for our lives.
An old hymn describes our heart as, "prone to wander, Lord, I feel it." It is really true, isn't it? We need to be reminded on a regular basis of what we have in Christ.
Some of the sweetest times in my life in church were in my High School years. This was the era of the Jesus movement and Lay Witness Missions that had a profound impact on my life for the good. Christianity came alive for me. One of the components of church life in that era was the share group. It was not a Bible study, we just talked about what God was doing in our lives. It was great.
I had a similar experience for a time in college where fellow believers would get together and just share what God was doing in our lives. Rich times of fellowship. We need to include some of this in every Sunday School class. Not all the time every week, but some of this in every class.
I recommend asking the previous two questions regularly. These next two questions can be asked every week.
3. How does it benefit you to follow Christ?
There is a foundational verse in Hebrews says "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Hebrews 11:6 [NIV]
I draw your attention to the word "rewards." We must not only believe that God exists. The demons do that. We must believe that he rewards. We must believe that following Christ has its own rewards. We must believe it is in our best interest to live the Christian life over the long haul. In the short run it can cost us, but in the long run, it is always in our best interest to live the Christian life.
It is important because we are hard-wired to do what we believe to be in our best interest. We can't avoid it. You can for a time, but eventually what you believe is in your best interest will win the day.
You must come to love the Christian life or you will never come to live the Christian life.
Quiet time becomes for you a "sweet hour of prayer" or you are not praying very well.
In every arena of life, no matter what you are teaching, you need to ask, "How does this benefit you?"
How does it benefit you to give?
How does it benefit you to forgive?
How does it benefit you to discover your spiritual gifts?
How does it benefit you to serve?
How does it benefit you to seek to double your class?
People will only do over the long run what they believe to be in their best interest. We need to ask about every arena of life, "How does God reward as we follow Him in this area?"
Self-discipline is over-rated. Not that there is not a place for self-discipline; there is. But if you try to live your whole life forcing yourself to do what you basically don't want to do, you are not living the abundant, John 10.10 life. We must come to love the Christian life, and every part of it, or we will never come to live the Christian life.
4. What does not following Christ cost you?
Psychologist tells us we are motivated by two things: pain and pleasure. Of the two, pain is a slightly greater motivator. We need to talk about both, just as the Bible does:
See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. Deut. 30:15 [NIV]
Which do you want--life and prosperity, or death and destruction? If you want life and prosperity, choose obedience. If you don't want that, choose disobedience. Your call.
Not following Christ will always cost us in the long run. Get people in touch with the cost.
5. What are you burdened about these days? What is on your heart? What has you tempted to worry?
So often when we ask for prayer requests, people have to think about it. Andy Stanley says, if you have to think about it, it is not a prayer request. Your real prayer requests you don't have to think about. That is what this question seeks to get at.
We share prayer requests about Aunt Bertha's hung toe nail and we need to be sharing about the tax bill we got this week and we don't know how we are going to pay for it, or our kid who has been diagnosed with Schizophrenia or a job we don't know if we should take. This is the real stuff that is on our heart and that is what we should be praying about. That is what we are praying about, and it is what we should be asking the group to pray about. Let Aunt Bertha's group pray about her hang nail.
This is, of course, part prayer request and part life sharing. This is how it should be. We need to do life together. Pray together, yes, but just share life together. Sunday School needs to be a place where we share what is really going on on one another's lives.
Need more help?
Asking questions is the fundamental skill taught in Disciplemaking Teachers. If you would like more help on this, there are books and videos in our online store. www.joshhunt.com Or, you might consider a live conference. www.joshhunt.com/conference.htm
Also, you might consider subscribing to the Lesson Vault. It is an online resource of hundreds of lessons that include these types of questions regularly. See www.joshhunt.com/vault.htm