If there is one piece of coaching that I give to the small group leaders I serve with it is that they need to talk less. Yes, talk less! As a small group facilitator their role is to get other people to talk. Here’s another tip in my series for small group facilitators.
TALK LESS THAN 25 PERCENT OF THE TIME
The number 25 percent is probably too high for many of our small groups. In 2018 I evaluated several aspects of our LIFEGroups ministry at Rocky Hill Community Church. And one thing that stood out to me was that out of the twenty LIFEGroups at our church, ten of them had three to six people in them. Meaning, 50 percent of our small groups at church had three to six people in them. With that said, I started with the 25 percent rule, but the percentage should be smaller as the group gets larger. For example, if your group has ten people in it, then you should talk less than 10 percent of the time.
Learning: Instilling the Word of God
I have talked about the four letters in our acrostic of LIFE elsewhere, but it is important to share again.
Everything we do in our LIFEGroups revolves around those four letters. The “L” in LIFE stands for Learning: Instill the Word of God.[ref]The “LIFE” framework we use is a copyright of David Ward Miller.[/ref] We do this in three ways.
First is “accord.” We want every group to do the “Unifying Question” based on the past weekend message. This helps people apply what they learned at church on Sunday and it reminds people that their small group should not replace them being part of a church community on the weekend too.
Second is “accuracy.” We want our small group facilitators to have careful application through a guided open discussion. Study guide tools by Warren Wiersbe and Chip Ingram help you to carefully interpret the passage as well as provide good questions for you to facilitate a open discussion.
Third is “application.” We want the material in the small groups to have personal relevance for meaningful life change. People should be learning in your group, but also applying what they are learning to their lives.
The Facilitator Is Not the Expert
As a small group facilitator it is easy to slip into the feeling that you need to be the expert that has all the answers in the group.
In fact, over time people will start to look to you as the expert and expect you to have the answers. You need to spend some time in preparation for the lesson (plan to spend about two to three hours for most facilitators) and be ready to discuss it with the group, but you are not the final authority about what is “right” or “wrong.”
I normally provide our small group facilitators with several tools to help them facilitate a discussion. One is the church doctrinal statement (contained within this handbook) that you can reference. If someone says something odd or has a question about doctrine, consult the church doctrinal statement and see what it says about the issued. Another is the commentary provided to you. I like to provide the Warren Wiersbe “BE” series commentaries to facilitators as a helpful tool to aide them in in their preparation for the discussion (another good set of commentaries are the “Thru the Bible” commentaries by J. Vernon McGee). Lastly, is a good study Bible. A study Bible that has good notes and which you find understandable is worth its weight in gold. (I sometimes provide them to new facilitators.)
Car mechanics have toolboxes, carpenters have tool belts, and small group facilitators need study Bibles!
The Facilitator Does Not Preach or Teach
Your job is to facilitate a discussion, not to preach or teach. Make sure that you talk less than 25 percent of the time in your group. Your job is to get people reading God’s Word, talking about it, and applying it to their lives.