Model Authentic Sharing
By Brett Eastman
The best thing you can do to encourage honesty in your group is to be honest yourself. This doesn't mean spilling your guts about your darkest secrets. Instead, it means asking for prayer in an area of your life where you're genuinely struggling, letting go of the myth that leaders need to appear perfect, and being genuine in your responses to questions.
A great activity that allows you to model genuine sharing and encourage group honesty is having each member share five people, circumstances, events, or places that have left lasting impressions on them, making them who they are today. Because some people have trouble talking about themselves so openly, you can use this visual aid: Have group members trace their hands on a piece of paper. Then have them come up with one person, circumstance, or event per finger. After group members write or draw thoughts, words, or pictures, they can explain their drawings to the group.
If some group members think the visual aid is too cute, that's okay. Different temperaments like different things. The point is to share key influences from their lives, with or without the visual aid.
Ideally, give people 10 minutes to figure out what they want to talk about and draw or write, and then 5 minutes each to share with the group. Understandably, this could take too long. After all, if you have 8 people in your group, that adds up to 50 minutes. Alternatively, you can have group members share just one person or event they wrote down.