How to do Observation in Small Group Bible Studies

There's something happening here.
What it is ain't exactly clear.
There's a piece of Scripture over there
To understand it we've gotta take care

I think it's time we
Stop, Small Group, what's that sound? 
Everybody look what's going down.

[Enter electic guitar]

Good Small Group Bible study hinges on quality Small Group observation.  If a Small Group leader asks good observation questions, everyone in the Small Group looks down at the text.  That's how you know you're doing it right.  There's a time for eye-to-eye contact.  The observation phase isn't it.

Tonight, I'm going to pass along the 5 Essential Observation Question Categories for Small Group.  Then I'll share some of my favorite staples.  Master the art of Small Group observation and your Small Group will love getting into Scripture together.  I guarantee it (or you can contact me for a full refund).

5 Essential Observation Question Categories for Small Group

  • Who are the main characters in the passage?
  • Who are the minor characters in the passage?
  • Who wrote the passage?
  • Who is the audience for the passage?
  • What special vocabulary is used?
  • What verbs do you see? commands?
  • What customs jump out to you?
  • What props would you need to act the passage out?
  • Where does all this happen?
  • Where is this place in relation to other places?
  • Where does this place show up elsewhere in Scripture?
  • When does all this happen?
  • How long does it all take?
  • How does it all go down?
These questions are so simple, even a journalist could master them.  You can too.  But if you listen to most Bible Studies, this section gets skipped over.  Everyone want to jump to what it all means.  But if you don't know what "it" is, you can't find out what "it" means.

Beyond the Big 5, I have a few other favorite questions:
- What words, phrases, images, or ideas do you see repeated?
- Where do you see indicatives and imperatives linked?
- What parts of the passage really jump out to you?

Use them wisely.  Use them well.  Stay thirsty, my friends.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:29 AM

    It's also important to try to ask "What is the main theme of this passage?" and try to fit the other questions into/around that theme. Otherwise, you are likely to miss the whole point and wind up adrift in speculation...

    Of course, you have to be careful -- sometimes your small group will show you that what you *thought* was the theme wasn't really it or find a new take on it that you hadn't anticipated.