I love a great question. I actually look for them and even write them down when I hear them or copy them when I read them. See also, Quotebook: Never Stop Questioning.
But there are some questions that are absolutely the wrong question and they lead to the wrong answer. See also, The Right Answer to the Wrong Question.
5 of my favorite frequently asked wrong questions:
1. Why can't we find enough qualified leaders to connect the people who sign up to join a group?
The short answer? You are probably using an old school system that depends on apprenticing, signing up potential leaders to training courses, or pleading with obviously qualified members to leave the group they love and start a new one.
What's the right question? What system(s) eliminate this issue? Taking my cue from the Andy Stanley line that your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results that you are currently experiencing, I can say with certainty that the design of the system you are using is the issue.
2. What is the best way to "vet" new small group leaders?
Can you see where this question leads? The question assumes that "vetting" must be done and that there is a better outcome if you do it the right way. See that? Actually, vetting isn't a bad thing to do, but the search for a best way to vet new small group leaders is based on the notion that safer leaders lead to better groups with fewer issues. In my experience, focusing on vetting produces fewer groups. Better to focus on ways to make it easier for new leaders to invite their friends and build their own groups.
What's the right question? Is our system designed to make it easy to begin and nearly automatic to step into a leader development pathway?
3. Since coaching doesn't work...how else can we support and develop small group leaders?
My answer? Coaching is not the issue. It does work and is still the best way to support and develop new small group leaders. If you're trying to retroactively assign coaches to existing small group leaders, you should expect something like the results of a bad organ transplant. Rejection.
What's the right question? How can we build an effective coaching structure that identifies, recruits and develops the kind of coaches that can do to and for our leaders what we want leaders to do to and for our members?
4. How can we reinforce struggling small groups?
This is a seriously wrong question because it assumes that you should do something out-of-the-ordinary to prop up group leaders and their groups when they struggle (most commonly this is about "not enough members). Artificially resuscitating struggling groups almost always leads to a lifelong dependency for new members.
What's the right question? How can we build a small group culture where it is easy to take a test-drive as a host, celebrating those who try, while allowing struggling groups to end with grace (and find a group to join)?
5. How can I prevent heresy in our small groups?
This question is most commonly asked by detractors of a lower bar of leadership, but is still asked by those with a heightened interest in control. It's been said that "you can have growth or you can have control, and you have to decide how much of each you want." In my mind, the explanation of the Church in the 1st century is not control.
What's the right question? How can I provide a pathway for group leaders that will keep them focused on the right destination?
What do you think? Have a question? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.
Image by Brett Farmiloe