I always start a group the same way–with what I call a life exposure question. The life exposure question does not have to do with the Bible; it has to do with life. It opens the window of each person’s life and lets us peer in. Here are some examples from some recent lessons I have written for The Lesson Vault:

  • Let’s each share our name and one favorite fruit. No one gets to repeat a fruit. (The question relates to that day’s study and this verse: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” John 15:16 (NIV)
  • Let’s each share our name and how many Christians you work with, or how the people you work with feel about Christians. (The lesson that day had to do with being persecuted. This verse sets the stage for that discussion.)
  • Share your name and one time you have been robbed. (The lesson included John 10.10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 (NIV)

As you can see, I try to relate the life exposure question to the lesson of the day. This allows the life exposure to do double duty. The life exposure question can fulfill two purposes at the same time–it exposes a bit of the group’s life to each other, and it helps to teach the lesson itself. (Another example of double duty is using biblical illustrations to make a point. By using a biblical illustration from another place in the Bible, you illustrate your point, while at the same time reminding the group of a biblical story.)

Sometimes, I can’t think of a question that relates to the lesson, so we can’t come up with a question that can do double duty. In this case, I resort to a totally trivial question:

  • Share your name and your favorite restaurant.
  • Share your name and your favorite fast-food restaurant.
  • Share your name and your favorite burger.

Notice, we always start with “share your name and.” If the group is doing any kind of outreach, there will be people there who do not know each other. Or, more likely, they kinda know each other, but they can’t remember that name. If you feel strongly that you don’t need to do this, I have a thought for you to consider: maybe you need to do more outreach. If everyone there knows the name of everyone there, it is time to go out and get some new people. The best way to do that is through parties. Have a party once a month and invite every member and every prospect. That is a great idea, but not the subject of this book.