I love a good Bible discussion. I love it when people disagree in Sunday school. I love it when there are different points of view.
It happened just the other night in our Tuesday night small group. We were discussing the passage in James speaking to the idea that teachers will be judged more strictly.
I have always thought of that as meaning judged by God more strictly. I have always taken that to mean that to some degree teachers are held responsible for the behavior of the people they teach. This is why it says, “Not many of you should try this.” (That is my paraphrase.)
But someone in the group had a completely different take on the same verse. He posed the question, “Is this judged by God or judged by others?”
I had always assumed it was judged by God. He assumed the opposite. He talked about how all of us tend to judge teachers more strictly.
The text seems to support that. It seems to support my view as well.
This is what makes for a great discussion.
The heart of the discussion is what I call the jump-ball question. This is a question that can legitimately have multiple answers.
We all know questions in general are key to a good discussion (Jesus himself used them to great effect), but the jump-ball question is a very special kind of question.
When it comes to answering a jump-ball question, the truth is often a careful midpoint between two extremes. We must lead people to find the narrow way. Jump ball questions help us to do that.
Here are some examples of jump-ball questions that have really got my classes talking:
Is Christian living easy or hard?
Jesus said, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Christian living is either easy or impossible. It is easy because it is not us living it. Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.” Yet, the Bible says in another place, “we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”
Is Christian living active or passive?
Is Christian living about striving and straining and trying really hard to be good, or is it about letting go and letting God? Is it getting out of the way and letting God live His life through us, or is it trying really hard to live a life He has called us to live? My answer? Yes.
Does God save people against their will?
Does God keep people saved who don’t want to be saved? Can Christians misbehave as badly as they want and still go to heaven when they die? If God has predestined who will be saved, then does it matter whether or not we witness? Why do missions if God has determined who will be saved?
Are we saved by faith alone?
Are we saved by faith that is alone? If a person says he has faith in Christ yet never shows any fruit is he really saved?
These kind of questions really get a group talking. I recommend you use them often in your teaching.
Now a question for you—but not a jump-ball one! What are some questions that get people talking in your Sunday school or small group discussions?