What follows is the third part from a small group curriculum leader’s manual (Small Group Life, from Lifeway Christian Resources). We will include additional selections in the following weeks. We pick up in the middle of a list of ways in which the small group leader can help encourage redemptive community to develop within their group. For the benefit of context, we encourage anyone who has not read the previous sections to do so before reading what follows. They can be easily located by clicking on the "GroupLife Dynamics" category link to the right of this blog entry.
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3. Encourage It. A few suggestions:
• If no one responds to a question, call someone by name and ask them to reply.
• If one individual talks so much others cannot speak, ask him or her privately to keep his or her comments to a minute or two.
• If some in the group seldom speak, contact them before the meeting and let them know you want them to respond to a question that is coming up in the next study. Let them know what that question is so they can prepare. When they do respond, thank them and let them know how much their responses mean to you and the group.
• After asking a question, wait as much as two minutes before saying something. In most instances someone will get the ball rolling if you wait long enough.
• If you are having a real problem with getting people to discuss, give attendees an index card and ask them to write down a response to a question. Then ask them to read back what they have written. Do this for one question each week until the group answers questions without the cards. At some point someone in the group will probably speak up and say, "These cards aren't necessary ". At that point, the cards really aren't necessary.
4. Hero It:
When someone speaks out (especially individuals that don't speak up often), thank that individual and say something like the following statement: "Thanks so much for giving your input. Every person's input is important to the rest of us as we learn what God is telling us by hearing from one another". Each time you do this you create a hero. Others will see what you are asking of them and other group members will pursue your words of affirmation.
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Be sure to catch the next two installments of this column and learn more ways to help foster safety and closeness within your small group.