Every week in Community Group we devote a portion of our time to group discussion. Sometimes those discussions are lively, other times they fall a bit flat. Sometimes people share personal struggles, other times people give generic answers. Sometimes people laugh, sometimes they cry, and then there are those times where some dude falls asleep on the couch.
So, what's the point of our group discussion time? What are we hoping to accomplish? And how to we accomplish that goal?
Let's tackle both of those questions:
1. What is the goal of group discussion?
It is not to get through all of the questions on the discussion guide.
It is not to to know more information.
It is not to make other people think you are smart.
It is not to know more about the Bible.
Our goal for group discussions is the same as our purpose for Community Groups: to Apply the Bible, Build Relationships, and Care for Each Other.
At the end of the day, or at the end of discussion time, our goal is that people would apply truth of God's Word in a community of people who will help them live out those truths.
The great commission is not just to make disciples, but to teach them to obey.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. - Matt. 28:19-20
Bible knowledge alone doesn't produce mature disciples, applied bible knowledge does.
So how do we help people do that? Let's look at questions two.
2. How do we facilitate discussions that accomplish our goal?
Think Conversation, Not Interrogation.
Often it seems like we're pulling teeth just to get people to participate. We are asking all of the questions, but our group is not engaging. If you had an unbelieving friend attend a service with you on Sunday and ask you questions about the sermon over lunch, you'd be ecstatic about that conversation. That's the same thing we want to have happen in group. Great conversations include both sides asking questions and responding. It's not about a leader asking questions or imparting knowledge, but each group member having a dialogue, asking their own questions, and sharing about how God's Word impacts their life today.
The more people you involve in creating conversation, the more likely each of your group members will participate. When they see what its like to be the question asker and not just the responder, they'll grow in ownership and be more likely to share themselves. Make it a goal that as a leader you won't facilitate more than 2 or 3 weeks a trimester. Check out the resources below for ideas on how to share facilitation well.
You set the pace. If you don't share your own struggles and challenges, its likely your group members won't either. Discussion shouldn't be like going to confession, but your group members need to see where you've come from, and where you are continually battling to trust and obey Jesus. Sharing your own struggles will open up doors for your group members to see and share areas they need to grow themselves.
Share Your Stories.
Honesty and openness flow out of relationship with people you know and trust. The problem is, many times we don't really know our group members. We talk about the sermon, a book, or Bible study, but we don't really know the people in our group. The better your group knows each other, the more likely they will share personally.
3 Ideas for sharing stories:
Show and Tell. Have each group member bring 3 to 5 objects that explain their story; what makes them who they are. (Pictures, Clothes, Books, Sports Equipment, Art, Record Album, Awards, Instrument, Heirloom, etc.)
Person, Place, Event. Take turns each week having several group members share at least one person, place, and event that has shaped their life and their faith.
Story Cards.These cards are a great way to get people talking, sharing pieces of their story that relate to the pictures on the cards. Purchase Story Cards HERE.
Even the healthiest groups with the best facilitators have weeks where discussion falls flat. Don't let that discourage you. We have an opportunity to take the truth of God's Word and help each other to live it out. It's a great privilege and responsibility. Hopefully a few of the ideas above and resources below will help your conversations lead to transformation.
Here is the 1 page overview of everything you need to know about leading engaging group discussions.
Here are 5 ways failing to share facilitation limits your group, 3 ideas for how to share facilitation, and 2 resources to help new facilitators succeed.
Here are 8 ways to help your group overcome the challenge of awkward silence.
The 2 Best Words To Boost Discussion
Here are two simple words we can use in almost any discussion to help the conversation go deeper.
Community Groups Pastor
Life is better connected!