Home groups are designed for small groups of people who can be authentic and transparent. That means they will have questions for new topics, comparisons with what they had learned in the past and for clarification of information. Home groups are designed with the intentional use of questions so that participants can practice thinking through the subject matter and building confidence in the ability of “…teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” (Matt. 28:20 NKJ) Here are several principles to consider when participants ask questions of the leaders.
Thank the person for the question
First, thank the person for asking the question. You can say, “Thanks, that is a good question!” If it is an innocent question, it will affirm him, especially if he is timid or unsure of himself. If it is not an innocent question (one trying to trip up the leader or looking for controversy), then the affirmation will put the group at ease that you, the leader, are not caught off guard. Whatever the motivation, the person is engaged and for that you can rejoice.
Do not be intimidated by the question
Secondly, do not be intimidated by the question. There are many difficult questions, especially for new leaders or those who lack confidence in dealing with Biblical questions. Remember one of the purposes of home groups is to grow spiritual parents so that home groups can expand and multiply. That means there will be many newer people who may be co-leading a home group and not have a Scripture passage answer for every question. That is not necessary. What is important is to not be intimidated by the question.
Defer the question to others in the group
Thirdly, it’s often best to defer the question to others in the group. For example, you can say, “What do the rest of you think about this question?” or “How would someone else answer that question?” The challenge is if you don’t know the answer, you may not know if the answer provided is correct or not. Therefore, make a note of the question and the answer given and do your homework at home. If the answer provided matches up with Scripture, then rejoice!
Give a passage of Scripture to answer the question
Fourthly, whether you or another person in the group addresses the topic, provide a passage of Scripture to answer the question. The reason is that we always want to base everything we answer on what Scripture says, not the home group leader, an elder, or even the pastor says. What does God say the answer is? Home groups are built on a Biblical Foundation.
Be willing to say “I don’t know, but I’ll find out the answer.”
Fifthly, be willing to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out the answer.” That is the humble way of leading and will gain far greater credibility than trying to give an answer that you think is right, but you then have to correct. When I was in seminary, the professor said, “When you graduate from seminary, the hardest three words in your first church will be, “I don’t know.” It is not just pastors, however, who have a hard time saying, “I don’t know.” There are many people who are troubled by those words, but they are actually a safeguard for leadership. Now, when you say you’ll find out the answer – GO find the answer and report back!
Have everyone do a study for the next week
Sixthly, you might have everyone do a study for the next week. If the question is one about a subject that could be studied fairly easily, then it might be best not to provide a full answer so that the group could do individual study at home. For example, let’s say someone asked a question about baptism. It is a basic question according to Hebrews 6:1-2, however, there is a lot you could learn from Scripture about it. It would be a fun study to have people go home and do a search on the word “baptism” in Scripture and have people make a note in all the places it occurs in Scripture (it occurs 23 times). You may need to guide people to the use of an internet site for searching through Scripture like www.biblegateway.com.1 Then ask them to see if they can make some sense about the different kinds of baptism and why some people who are baptized do not get wet?
Rejoice that he/she is asking a question
Finally, rejoice that he/she is asking a question. That shows the person is engaged and wanting to grow. It normally fosters greater discussion and stimulates other people to ask questions when they see you deal well with other questions. You want home group to be a safe environment when people can ask questions, have fun learning and be a place where there is encouragement to ask questions and grow.
The home group leader can be a crucial person to help others grow spiritually. It is a fun position, but it can have difficult moments. God will use people to challenge leaders in order to foster greater growth and in order to be better and wiser leaders sharpened to disciple others.