Preparation is important as a small group facilitator. In this post I show you how to prepare to facilitate a great small group discussion.
Don’t just show up and wing it. A great small group discussion doesn’t just happen. It takes preparation and hard work. Here is how you will want to prepare for your small group based on what curriculum you are using.
Preparation Steps for a Verse-by-Verse Bible Study
Pray for the for the hearts of the people that will be studying the passage in your group, pray that you would do a good job facilitating the discussion, and pray that the people in your group will apply what they are learning.
Read the Passage a Few times Quickly
Look at the lesson that your group will be covering that week and read the passage that is assigned for the week. Read it in the morning when you wake up, while on your lunch break at work, or at night before you go to bed. You want to simply read the text and start to get a feel for the big idea of the passage and some of the topics discussed.
Read a Good Commentary about the Passage
Reading the commentary that comes with the guides you are using helps give you (the facilitator) some background information on the context of the passage, theology, and possible applications of the passage. These commentaries can be very helpful when you facilitate difficult books of the Bible or problematic passages.
Work Through the Study Guide Questions on Your Own
After you have prayed, read the passage several times, and have read a commentary about the passage, then you want to spend some time working through the study guide questions. Take time to write out your responses to the questions. If some questions are difficult then you can skip them and come back to them later (the beauty of a small group is that you don’t have to have all the answers).
Preparation for a Topical DVD Study[ref]Because a DVD study requires the use of a TV and DVD player, there are several steps you need to follow about a month before your group begins. First, you need to test each DVD to make sure that they work. Second, you need to adjust the “zoom” on your TV to make sure the notes on the screen show up on the bottom of the screen. Third, you need to make sure you have the correct study guides and that you have enough study guides. Fourth, read the “small group leader resources” that are normally in the back of the study guide.[/ref]
Spend some time in prayer for your group in your group, that they learn what you will be studying, and that they will apply what they learn to their lives.
Watch the DVD
Spend some time on your own and watch the DVD session just like you would as a participant. Take notes on the material and go through it like the participants will.
Watch the Coaching Videos
One of the reasons I prefer to have our church groups using the materials produced by Living on the Edge and Chip Ingram is that they often provide some “coaching videos” on the DVDs. This gives the facilitator a few brief tips each week to facilitate a good discussion and lead the group well.[ref]However, not all of the studies produced by Living on the Edge have coaching videos.[/ref]
Review the Passages for Discussion in a Good Study Bible[ref]I recommend the following study Bibles: Wiersbe Study Bible (NKJV), Swindoll Study Bible (NLT), Ryrie Study Bible (NASB, KJV), Scofield Study Bible (NIV, NKJV, KJV), NIV Study Bible, or ESV Study Bible.[/ref] or Commentary
Often a study guide will reference certain passages during the discussion time. Take a little time to review those passages in a study Bible or a commentary. A little time for review will help you have a little context and meaning of the passage that should help you facilitate your discussion.
Review the “Session Notes” Provided in the Back of the Study Guide
The study guides provided by Living on the Edge often have a “Session Notes” section in the back of the study guide. In that section there are some tips provided to help the facilitator lead a good discussion and organize the group. Take some time to read this week each before facilitating your group.
Question: Do you have any tips for preparing to facilitate a small group discussion?