When you want to have a discussion that gets somewhere beyond just sharing opinions (or ignorance), it takes some strategy. Learning to ask questions that “flow” towards an end can help you help others. “Flow Questions” help you lead people to the scripture and help them observe it objectively, then interact with it to interpret what it means and how they feel about that, and then make the application of it they need to make. They flow towards applied understanding. They help people listen to God’s direction. It is an ART any Cell Leader wants to keep developing.
1. Study the passage at hand and let God speak to you, first.
2. Outline the passage (you will probably want to use some of the study helps you have collected).
3. State the main point or points in a sentence (obviously you have chosen a meeting-sized passage, not a whole chapter!)
4. Then you can start writing a set of flow questions:
Knowing the facts
Start with a question that gets at the main facts. This is a question that anyone can answer just by looking at the words — no special background needed. Be general, not too specific, so even the unbelievers in your cell can participate. If you do not presume people have spotted what you think is obvious, no one will feel too stupid. Who. What. When. Where. Why. How?
Interpreting the facts
You may or may not need these questions, depending on your group. These questions focus on the truth from God that the facts reveal. Don’t get stalled here; we’re trying to get to application. This definitely reflects the train of thought you discerned would be best for the group to pursue. What does it mean? Why was that being said, here? Why is it important?
Relating to the truth
At this point you are steering the group to let their hearts get engaged, not just their minds. Ask a question that people can feel about. It may convict, expose, encourage, etc.
How do you feel about this? Do you relate to this meaning? Does it threaten or encourage you in any way? What characteristic seen here do you desire?
Applying what is at the heart of the matter
The final question should help people make a commitment of some kind to living out what has entered their heart. You know what your group is like, so you can skillfully push the envelope and help people go at the rate they can towards living as a full disciple.
What will you do about this and how? Where do you most need to apply this this week?
• Maintain an atmosphere of warmth, empathy and respect or this study process could be counterproductive, even damaging.
• Use “yes” or “no” questions. This is a discussion. Those questions halt it.
• Use too many questions. 3-7 Should be enough. Otherwise you are Socrates.
• Start out with a “why” questions or you will be off to the opinion races.
Examples: Two Sets of Flow Questions
Ephesians 2:1 (NIV) As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
1. According to these verses, what has God done in the lives of the Ephesians (the people to whom the author is writing a letter)?
2. Believers ARE two big things, here: “saved by grace” (v.8) and “created for good works” (v.10). What do you think; are these the same thing? Does one come before the other? Can you have one without the other?
3. If you are “seated with Christ,” now, (v.6) how would you like that to impact how you feel about your life this week?
4. Could someone share one of the plans they’d like to make (or have made) for accomplishing the good work God has prepared for them to do (v.10)?
[Note: another set of questions could have focused more on receiving mercy or more on getting on with doing good — depends on what is needed.]
Ephesians 2:11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)– 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
1. As far as you can tell from these sentences, how has being “in Christ” changed the relationships of these people in Ephesus, both to God and one another?
2. Tell us more about what you think Paul means when he speaks about “the wall” in v.14.
3. Can you list the kinds of “walls” we bump into in our city?
4. Let’s list the ways Christ and his church making an impact in those kinds of situations, according to this scripture.
5. What wall are you facing, that Christ might like to breach?
6. Share with us how you would like to act on Christ’s behalf when you are up against the wall so we can pray for you right now.
[Note: Could have focused on how individuals came to Christ and how others can, or on preaching peace, or on access by one Spirit, etc.]