The Jumpball Question

Josh Hunt provides some of the best small group lesson prep material you will find anywhere.  I know that several of our teachers use some of his resources.  I came across a great concept he uses called the “jumpball question”  he borrows the phrase “jumpball” from the game of basketball.  The jumpball is a play used in basketball when there is no clear direction as to which way the ball should be going, and it’s a fair way to get the game action started.  The ball is thrown into the air for both sides to pursue, and then things take their natural course.  Essentially, the jumpball question in a small group bible lesson would have the same effect.  It’s a starting point.  Throw it out and let it get the action started.  It’s a question that will get people thinking, talking, and engaged in the lesson.  Here is how Josh Hunt describes it:

The jump ball question is the heart of the lesson, but it is not the whole lesson. I write lessons for a living. I think I’ve written more lessons that any human, living or dead. Here are some question types I often use:

  • What does the text say?
  • What does the text mean?
  • Who can locate Ephesus on a map?
  • How does your translation have Romans 12.1?
  • What are 10 ways we could serve our community? (Note: I am not asking for commitment at this point; just brainstorming.)
  • How do you think the son felt as he approached the father near the end of the story? It is always a good idea to read the Bible with an emotional question.
  • Can you think of any other verses that speak to the same idea?
  • What does this passage teach about God?
  • What does this passage teach about us?
  • Why don’t we do this more often?
  • How do I become a person of faith and confidence?
  • Yes, but how?
  • How will it benefit me to serve? To give? To forgive? To be obedient?
  • What will it cost me if I don’t serve? What if I don’t give? What if I don’t forgive? What if I am not obedient? What will it cost me if I don’t?
  • What do you want to recall from today’s discussion?

Interestingly, jumpballs don’t only happen in the game of basketball at the beginning.  They can happen at any point in the game when needed.  In the same way, these kinds of questions can be used at any time during a lesson when the action slows down and people need to get engaged.

Perhaps you can assimilate some of these examples of jumpball questions into your bible studies, or come up with some of your own!

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