Lesson 5 – Learning to Facilitate the Flow of the Evening

In this lesson we review the different elements that make up a typical GJF group meeting.

Lesson Outline

A summary of key points on the responsibilities of group facilitators, from the book ‘Making Small Groups Work’ by Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend. We recommend a read of chapters 25 to 35 from this book on “The Responsibilities of Group leaders”
Humility is key. The leader is not the group… it is the Lord’s group. The leader is like a gardener, providing a proper balance of the ingredients of growth that come through Christ: the materials, conversations etc. and protects from anything that could take the group off of its course.
Please note that this type of small group would be like that of taking a walk in the park as opposed to an indoor geometry lesson. It is an inductive method of learning, moving from experience to theory. The purpose of GJF is to walk with other people on a journey of discovery. The process is the sharing of experiences whereby we can all feed, understand, and learn better. The leaders facilitate, guide and guard the sharing process. A small group built around experiences can last for a long time.
Learn to make a process-oriented statement. Process is not something we can do or control but rather like a walk in the park or like an unfolding discover of God, ourselves and each other. What happens when the group goes off track? The leader can then make a process statement that helps bring the group sharing back on topic or course. At the same time, maybe going off track could be fruitful at times, but in this case you might want make people aware of the detour and get their permission to continue in that direction.
This happens especially when people are trying to process pain. As a leader you can help bring them back to the place where healing or encouragement could happen. We need to help people to go deep when it’s called for, going beyond the surface level in sharing.
  • Assure the group that you are in charge. That the group is not going to go off in various directions lose the essence of the discussion.
  • Be a model of deep and authentic sharing of your own experience, to encourage others in their vulnerability.
  • Notice and express what you’re observing in the group dynamic -ie, pointing out key phrases or words being shared, sluggishness, lack of connectivity, etc.
  • Guard the process through gentle correction from those who dominate, interrupt, or stunt the flow of the discussion. ie. “Hold on Joe, I want to hear more from Susie”
  • Hold members to their commitment. People may have a hard time sharing at the level of the heart and can be prone to interrupting others or avoiding personal sharing with quoting Scripture when this sharing begins to happen. Recognize when a deeper sharing is needed and protect it.
  • Ask open-ended questions, that all can answer and that allow for a wide range of conversation. Draw out the experiential sharing. For example;
    • “What are some responses to the passage we have just heard”
    • “Maybe we should each in turn share our own thoughts on this idea”
    • “Can you tell me more about that?”
    • “Does anyone have anything else they would like to share or add?”
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