Wednesday, March 2, 2022

IBS-32 Struggling to Ask the Right Questions

The Big Idea: Well thought out application questions help guide a Bible discussion or personal study toward practical life application.

Bible Study Leaders, this one’s for you!

As a former professor for West African pastoral candidates and regular speaker at churches and retreats, the hardest part for me to prepare in a lesson or message is bringing home how the Bible is practical and real to us today. I’m not the best at conclusions. I’ve written and led Bible Studies for over 40 years. Yet I struggle asking questions targeting the personal relevancy of the Bible for us. Only in past year I sense improvement at zeroing in to the practicality of the Bible for everyday life.

My favorite question has become: Why does it matter? -or- How does it matter?

God’s Word is written for a reason and it matters. These two questions pivot upon “Why is this passage in the Bible for us?” And “How is it significant and relevant for our life?”

The thing is, reflecting on application takes time. Think time. Waiting-on-God time. When we as Bible Study leaders ask these questions, allow a little silence to let people reflect. Give the opportunity to talk a question over in groups of two or three. It helps sometimes to process outloud.

Free Resource from Josh McDowell

An excellent resource is Josh McDowell’s book, A Guide to Understanding Your Bible, suggests these 12 application questions. You can download a basic edition of his book for free here.

1. What truths are found in this passage?

2. How does this truth apply to my life? At work? In my neighborhood? At home? In my nation?

3. In view of this truth, what specific changes should I make in my life?

4. How do I propose to carry out these changes?

5. What is my personal prayer regarding the application of this truth?

6. What verse (or verses) of Scripture could I memorize to best summarize this truth?

7. What illustration can I develop to help me retain this truth and communicate it to others? (A story, a poem, a graphic, a cartoon, or a drawing, for example.)

Be Specific

Josh McDowell’s questions are really concrete, aren’t they? They ask you to picture something or to check the application to various settings of your life. When working on Bible application, be specific and personal in applying truth to your life. And then share your reflections with someone.

It matters.

This is the thirty-second in a series called Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study. 

Up next: Honesty

Previous post: Never Ask This Question



1. Why do you think we struggle to be specific in Bible application?

2. How well would you assess you apply God’s Word to your life in a concrete way?

3. Take Ephesians 1:16 and reflect how you can make a concrete application to someone in your life. How does this matter? Who might be the person you focus on? What might you do to put it into practice, at least for a day?

I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly. Ephesians 1:16 NLT

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