What does peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper and spaghetti and meatballs have to do with leading a small group? The same way those ingredients compliment each other is the same way a small group should compliment the Sunday services. Too much of a good thing is bad for recipes and the body of Christ.
In a typical service there is corporate worship and preaching. People are sitting in rows together but not interacting much with each other. The potential for fellowship and personal connection is extremely low. This is sufficient as long as its not the church’s only expression.
In order for small groups to compliment the weekend experience the small group leader needs to see him or herself as a facilitator when the group meets during the week. Being a facilitator means you need to be thinking about group process, not individual performance. A facilitator looks to get the group moving and then step back. They know when to intervene because things are getting off-track and they take responsibility for guiding the group in a way that synergy is created.
Here are 5 Facets of Facilitating With Finesse…
1. Don’t teach or preach for the entire time. It’s tempting for leaders with outgoing personalities to simply duplicate a church service when they lead a small group meeting, but it’s not the path to building community. I am a preacher by trade, but when I lead a small group I do not do the majority of the speaking, rather, the group does.
For people who came up in the Lord through adult Sunday school classes this can be an unnatural paradigm shift. I still know lay leaders to this day who can’t quite shake the itch to stand up in the group and talk the whole time.
In order to be an effective facilitator you have to approach your meetings with the goal of engaging people and allowing them to contribute to the spiritual formation of the collective whole.
2. Lead With Questions. Instead of a teaching or sermon you should be preparing questions that take your group through a journey of discovery. I cover this in more detail in Small Group Discussion Questions That Go Deep.
3. Manage Personalities. Be prepared for people who are not accustomed to the format, meaning, they don’t have a lot of experience with a healthy Bible-based small group. Here’s a few tools to keep handy:
4. Be Real. As Galatians 6:7 teaches us, you will reap what you sow. As the small group leader, if you sow seeds of authenticity and transparency by demonstrating it to the group, you will reap a harvest of trust from them in return. Seriously, works every time.
5. Listen With Compassion. Make sure to pay attention to everything being shared. Listen with your eyes. Listen with your body language. Listen with your mouth closed. Most importantly, listen with your heart. Great listeners are great ministers.
In conclusion, being an effective facilitator is all about getting your focus on others. Create a disposition that is ready to receive people and encourage them in the Lord. The combination of faith-filled corporate gatherings and small group community is lethal to the kingdom of darkness.
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