Part of the role of a small group facilitator or Sunday School teacher is to affirm what people say. Not everyone is going to always have the correct theological biblical answer to every question you ask. So, here’s a few tips for affirming what people say in your small group.
AFFIRM WHAT PEOPLE SAY
Let people know what they say makes sense and is a good contribution by thanking them for sharing. It takes courage to speak up and talk in a small group.
How to NOT Affirm What People Say
Here are some things you do not want to do as a small group facilitator.
Do Not Make it Obvious that there Is Only One Right Answer
I had a seminary professor who was terrible at facilitating class discussions. He was a nice guy and knew his topic well, but anytime he asked a question of the class, there often was only one specific answer that he was looking for. I came to realize that he was not looking to have the class discuss the question; instead he was looking for someone to simply give the right answer that he wanted to hear. By the end of the semester, anytime he asked a question very few people were willing to speak up because they knew they probably did not have the answer in their mind that he was looking for.
Do Not Tell People They Are Wrong
Try to avoid saying “That’s not in the Bible” or “That’s not biblical” or “I think you are wrong.”
There will be times when people in your group will say things that are very controversial, unbiblical, and just weird. I once had a woman in one of my groups say that she believed babies were born with the Holy Spirit inside of them. Avoid telling people that they are wrong, instead thank them for contributing to the discussion. But, try to point them back to what the Bible says about that topic as a gentle way to correct them.
When that woman told me she believed babies were born with the Holy Spirit inside of them, I pointed her to Isaiah 53:6; Psalm 51:5; and Romans 3:23 as verses that clearly teach that every person is born a sinner and in needed of Jesus.
How to Affirm What People Say in Your Group
A small group facilitator should have a toolbox of responses for people who speak up and share in the group.
Statements like, “I like how you phrased that” or “Thank you for sharing” go a long way to encourage people to share their thoughts and answer the questions you ask the group. A few other ideas are to say, “That’s a good point,” or “Great observation from the passage” or “I see what you are saying” or “I like what you shared” or “Earlier you said this, and it relates to this now” or “I like how you phrased that.” Try to have a variety of responses you can regularly use to affirm what people say in your small group.
Extra Affirmation for the New Person
If you lead a group that has been meeting for two years or more, you need to give extra affirmation to the new person that joins your group. Give that new person extra attention and love. Affirm the new person as much as possible as a way to welcome him into the group and to help him feel accepted.