What follows is the second part from a small group curriculum leader’s manual (Small Group Life, from Lifeway Christian Resources, pages 24-27). We will include additional selections in the following weeks.
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The pool of redemptive community is a precarious one. Each person will approach this pool in his own way in his own time. Some will sprint angrily away from the glistening water of redemptive community and seat themselves in a seemingly safe haven as far away as possible. Self-created barriers are evident: arms crossed, legs folded, completely disengaged (they probably need the cool waters of redemptive community the most). Some will saunter slowly toward the pool but stop a few feet short and peer in anxiously, waiting to see what happens to those who enter into that pool. Others will take a seat at the pool's edge, feet dangling in the warm waters of possibility. These friends sense that something wonderful could happen but are not sure they are willing to immerse themselves in this mysterious environment. And some will do a swan dive into the blue waters of redemptive community It is there they will experience life like never before and be forever bonded to others who have already experienced the freedom and release found there. And then, much to his or her amazement, it is realized, "The Trinity has been inviting me to join Him here since the beginning of time ."
One of the goals of an effective small-group leader is to create an environment that draws group members into conversations that are conducive to redemptive community. A few things you can do to create this atmosphere:
1. Break It. Early in each study there is a Connect section, or icebreaker activity. Be sure each group member answers the icebreaker questions you choose to use. The primary goal of the icebreaker is to involve group members in the conversation early on so they will feel comfortable to answer deeper questions later in the conversation.
2. Model It. The discussion questions in Small Group Life have been carefully crafted. These questions will lead group members to speak of their own journeys. Before others will answer revealing questions, you may need to answer them first. You will know if you need to do this if after you ask a question, no one responds for a minute or two. As you answer the question, be sure to give the last 10% of the story. Bill Hybels once spoke of the last 10%. Most people are open to telling you 90% of their stories but they leave out the last 10%. For instance, if asking, "What was the greatest trauma you experienced in high school?" someone might respond by saying that she had an argument with her best friend. That's 90% of the story. The last 10% of the story is that they haven't spoken to each other since, and they have been greatly affected by the distance between them.
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We hope that this material is helpful to you in understanding how a small group leader can be pro-active in the process of bringing his/her group into a deeper level of community...redemptive community.
To help this forum be all that it can be, please take a moment or two to add your own comment on this topic. How have you seen these principles at work within your own small group experience? What would you add to the author's thoughts on this subject? Please consider blessing our other leaders by sharing from your experiences as a leader.