Skip to main content

W hether you need some group discussion prompts for a social gathering, or need to have meaningful group discussions with people in your church, these facilitation tips and discussion questions will help you develop relationships and trust in Christian community. Possibilities for use include asking one question at the beginning of a committee or church board meeting, or work several questions into a Bible study group or youth group meeting to deepen relationships. Additionally, you might use these questions and prompts to get to know new church members, or you could organize a conversation night to build community.

Tips for facilitating group conversations

If you are the facilitator or leader of a group conversation, you have an important role! Your job is to create a welcoming and hospitable environment for everyone else to process, share, and respond in meaningful and respectful ways. Here are a few tips for guiding group conversations and discussions.

  • Be hospitable: Make the most of the space available to you and your group. Ensure that all participants have an opportunity to participate.
  • Be authentic: As a facilitator, your posture helps set the tone for the group discussion. Be open and honest in your own sharing, but be careful not to dominate the conversation.
  • Welcome the silence: Sometimes silence is needed to let people think and formulate their best answers. Don’t rush to fill silent space, or move on to the next question or prompt too quickly.
  • Pay attention to who is talking and who is not talking. People who are not sharing may feel unsafe or uncomfortable, or may require additional time for internal processing and thinking. Avoid singling out people to share. When someone is monopolizing the conversation, step in to create space for others to share.
  • Respect time: If you plan to have a lengthy time of group discussion, keep in mind that most people need to move around every 45 minutes. Schedule accordingly.
  • Enforce boundaries: As a facilitator, it is your responsibility to set and maintain boundaries of mutual respect (and any other ground rules your group chooses to establish). If someone is out of line and disrespects another participant, it is your responsibility to step in and reinforce boundaries.

These tips are adapted from the Renovations Project, in which church teams learn together and spark ideas for flourishing ministry.

Questions and prompts to build community

The following questions and prompts are not “ice-breakers”; rather, they are intended for times of intentional and meaningful group conversation as a means of building trust and relationships in Christian community.

Get to know each other

  • Who are you? Take a moment and introduce yourself to the people around you. Tell them where you are from, what church you go to, and how you serve (at church, at work, in the community, etc.). Then share one thing you would like prayer for. Spend a few moments in prayer for each other’s requests.
  • What makes it easier to connect with people you don’t know? What makes it harder?

Questions about church and ministry

  • We all have things in our church and in our ministries that have the ability to suck the life out of us. But there are also rejuvenating things, things that energize us and bring us joy. Share one thing that energizes you, excites you, or motivates you to continue to do the work God has called you to do. Finish this time of sharing by asking God to multiply these moments of joy for those around you.
  • God has called us to minister to the communities that surround our churches. Take a moment and share one amazing thing your church has done to bless your community. What could you use to do more for your community and how would you use it? Celebrate all that God is doing and what you hope to do through the work of your congregation.
  • Music has the ability to bring people in our congregations together. Someone will begin singing a hymn or a song, and before you know it, others will begin to join in. Share about a song that is special to you and why it has meaning for you.
  • If your church closed its doors today, what would your community miss? What would need to change in your church for it to become more missionally focused?
  • What are some things we do that help the church’s mission of being outwardly focused? What are some things we do that hinder the church’s mission of being outwardly focused? (This can be specific to a local congregation or more general of the broader church.)
  • What is the most exciting outreach experience your church has had? What made it exciting? What was the outcome?

Prompts that celebrate women in ministry

  • Take a moment and reflect upon the women in your church or life, and identify someone who stands out to you. She can be someone from your past or in the present. Share something she did or is doing to inspire you to be the best you can be in serving God. Give God thanks for her as you lift her up in prayer.
  • As God continues to call women into service as ordained deacons, elders, and ministers of Word and sacrament (including as chaplains), what words of encouragement can you share with the women in your life and in your congregation as they discern their call? Share a prayer to motivate these women.
  • We don’t always talk enough about the women in the Bible. Let’s work to change that. Pick a woman from the Bible who stands out for you and share why. Then, lift up a prayer for a woman God has called into service.

Questions about mission and the future church

  • As we reflect upon the many ways in which God has blessed us, take a moment and offer up a prayer for mission partners and missionaries who are working hard to help others to see God at work in their lives.
  • Imagine that God was calling you to go into the mission field. Where would you go? What gifts do you bring? What would you need to bless those God has called you to minister to?
  • What is the biggest obstacle for you personally to live missionally? What is the biggest obstacle for your church?
  • How much do you think about or pray for people who are disconnected from God?
  • What are your hopes and dreams for the future of the church? Take some time and share what you would like to see the church—local and/or global—doing in the years to come. Ask God to bless disciples everywhere with whatever it will take to make this happen.
Rev. Dwayne Jackson

Rev. Dwayne Jackson is co-pastor of the Second Reformed Church of Hackensack in Hackensack, New Jersey, along with his wife, Rev. Anna M. Jackson. He has held multiple roles in the Reformed Church in America, including serving with the African American Black Council and the Commission for Women, and serving as coordinator of social witness and social justice and as General Synod vice president (2022) and president (2023).