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Theology Network is changing

UCCF continues to be committed to equipping today's Theology students to live and speak for Jesus in their chosen field of study.
Theology Network is now a part of UCCF's Leadership Network, so you can now find our resources at www.uccfleadershipnetwork.org/theology. As a result, this site will be taken down at the beginning of 2019.



 Theology Network Groups 

Council of Elrond

 How to Lead a Group Discussion

 Josh Oldfield

This is a short guide on how to helpfully lead a theological discussion with students in your Theology Network group.

Choosing a topic

First off, it is really important that the topic of conversation is something that will be helpful for the group. Here are a few things to consider...

  1. Will this topic help meet the aims of Theology Network? i.e. does it help us know God better, encourage us to study well, or equip us to share the gospel in our department?
  2. Will it promote unity, or create division?[1]
  3. Am I trying to promote a stance outside of our doctrinal basis?
  4. Make sure it’s interesting - something people want to discuss!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with discussing every aspect of theology - as group leader you are not the theology police! But think carefully about what message your chosen topic would send and how the group might respond. Be aware that certain topics can be personal or painful too.

Writing Questions

This is a really key part of your preparation which you will need to do beforehand - alongside prayer! Good questions will set the tone and pace of a discussion, likewise poorly prepared questions might leave you with little to discuss. A few tips on what makes good questions...

  1. Open questions produce conversation, closed questions kill it. Don’t ask questions that can be responded with simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’ - make people think! Questions that start “what do you think...?”, “how would you respond...?” or “why is it wrong that...?” are all helpful.
  2. A few well phrased questions are better than lots of badly phrased ones. If they are well written, you will probably find that after your first two or three questions discussion flows without you. But do try to come up with at least 7 questions that deal with different areas of the topic. Also, you may need to rephrase questions in a few different ways so that everyone understands what you’re asking!
  3. Try to get to heart of the issue and ask the difficult questions. We are aiming for truth, not the Sunday school answer!

Leading, not LEADING!

Your job in leading the discussion is not to preach a mini-sermon, that is hardly a discussion! By all means prepare well, do your research if needed, and have an aim in the back of your mind, but be careful that you don’t end up saying too much. It’s easy to think you need to have all the answers, but remember that the group will probably have lots to say.

During the discussion remember to love the people in the group and try to keep everyone included and up to speed - but also be aware that some people love to talk, and others like to listen. Your job is to set the pace; move on when things get too off topic, slow things down when people give simplistic answers. Be aware of how everyone is feeling about what is being discussed - stop to explain things if people get lost, clarify things when people get confused, and challenge people who are trying to be controversial for the sake of it!

[1] Enmity and factions are sinful according to Gal 5:20!