Sometimes Christians think they have to agree with everyone in their small group. Part of the growth that people experience in a small group is enjoying fellowship with people that believe and act differently than they do. Learning to love those people and get along with them is a sign of spiritual maturity. From time to time, remind your group that it is okay to disagree.
Facilitating a small group is more art than science. While there are certain principles small group facilitators need to follow,[ref]Some of these principles are doing the Unifying Question each week, having an apprentice/assistant/co-leader, having an Empty Chair in the group to remind everyone to pray for unsaved people, serving together at church or in the community, talking less than 25 percent of the time, starting and ending the group on time, calling someone who is part of your group and did not show up for group and did not tell anyone he wouldn’t be there, and encouraging everyone to participate in the discussion.[/ref] there are various techniques you can use.
VISIT OTHER GROUPS TO SEE HOW OTHER FACILITATORS FACILITATE
Each facilitator is going to have his own unique style of facilitating a small group. Thus, there are things each facilitator can learn from each other. Which is a principle that Scripture also teaches.
One the goals of your small group is to have everyone actively part of a weekly discussion. You want each person talking about what he is learning, how he is applying it to his life, and how his life is changing as a result. However, once you have nine or more people in your small group meeting, it is hard to get everyone involved in the discussion, therefore you need to subgroup your small group during discussion time.
SUBGROUP WHEN YOU HAVE NINE OR MORE PEOPLE AT YOUR MEETING[ref]“Subgrouping in this way will ensure that the doors of your small group remain open to seekers and other lost souls looking for the love of Christ. Not only does it develop leaders, but it also ensures that your small group atmosphere is conducive to adding friends.” Steve Gladen, Leading Small Groups with Purpose, p. 161[/ref]
Why Subgroup Your Small Group
Pray for the members of your group every day. Pray that the curriculum you will be using will speak to your group and transform their lives to look more like Christ. Also pray that God would prepare you and your heart to facilitate a discussion that helps people grow in their faith in Jesus Christ.
SOAK YOUR GROUP MEMBERS AND CURRICULUM IN PRAYER
T.A.L.K. to God about Your Group
When you pray to God about your group, follow the T.A.L.K. process.
Thank God for Your Group and the People He Has Sent to You
APPLICATION IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN COMPLETION
“The crowning part of your task in searching the Scriptures is to discover ways the truth applies to your own life and the lives of others” Chuck Swindoll, God’s Word for You, p. 111
The Goal Is Life Change for your Group Members
One of your goals as a small group facilitator is to get everyone involved in your group as much as possible. On the weekend people go to church and passively listen, but during the week at their small group we want them to actively discuss what they are learning and how they are growing.
Steve Gladen, the Small Groups Pastor at Saddleback Church has stated, “Every person in your group is an important part of the process [of discipleship]—not just the leader. The sooner your group members realize this, the healthier your group will be, and the easier your job will become” (Steve Gladen, Leading Small Groups with Purpose, p. 109). Get everyone as involved as possible in the organization of your group as well as during the discussion time.
Sometimes people go to a group and try to make a group be what they want it to be. Some people want to be part of a group focused on prayer, so they try to have a lot of prayer in your group. Some people want to study the Bible and theology, so that is all they think your group should spend its time on. Other people want to have Christian friends and experience fellowship, so they only want to enjoy time with others and have no interest in Bible study or prayer time.
ENSURE EVERYONE UNDERSTANDS THE PURPOSE OF THE GROUP FROM DAY ONE
Yet, as a LIFEGroup, we want to have a balance of several areas. Your job as a facilitator is to ensure your group touches on the different elements that each small group needs to have. It reminds me of a story from the book of Nehemiah.
Nehemiah Sets the Pace and Direction for His Ministry
John Calvin was a Swiss reformer and contemporary to the well-known Martin Luther (Calvin is twenty-six years younger than Martin Luther).
In the city of Geneva, jewelers and goldsmiths made crucifixes, chalices, and other items that people were reverent to and sometimes even worshipped. When John Calvin had political influence in the city of Geneva, one thing he instituted was a Consistoire, or “ecclesiastical court.” This “court” got rid of jewelers and goldsmiths making crucifixes, chalices, and other instruments serving papacy and idolatry. However, John Calvin allowed the clockmakers to stay.
In John Calvin’s mind, timeliness was a virtue because a Christian was not supposed to let minutes go unused for the Lord. In Calvin’s theology, every Christian would have to give an account to God for every moment of his life, and the personal clock was a way to help Christians make the most of the time they had.[ref]Jennifer McNutt, and David Lauber, The People’s Book, p. 100.[/ref]
Similar to John Calvin and his reverence for time, you too, as a small group facilitator, need to make the most of the time you have in your group meetings. However, be sure to begin and end on time.
BEGIN AND END ON TIME
Starting and Ending on Time Is Your Responsibility as the Facilitator
As the small group facilitator, you are the leader of your group. The king of Israel, David, reminds us about the limited time we have and how we must make the most of it,