90% of what you say, they'll forget. But 90% of what they say, they'll remember. So, your goal as a facilitator is to get your group members talking.
You’re NOT a teacher, you’re a facilitator. To lead a highly productive group discussion start with what NOT to do and you’re halfway there!
1. Don’t answer your own questions. Otherwise, the group will look to you as “the teacher” rather than “the facilitator.” You’re not just the question asker—you can participate like any member—but don’t be the first one to answer your own question.
2. Don’t over-talk. Groups with an overtalkative leader will often sit back…in boredom! 90% of what we hear we forget, but 90% of what we say, we remember. So, your goal is to get your group talking…remembering…and learning.
3. Don’t be afraid of silence. Silence may mean you need to rephrase the question, but if you “bail out your group” during silence you set a bad precedence. To exercise patience, count in your head from 100 to 0 before answering if you have to. Oh yes, they’ll talk!
4. Don’t be content with just one answer. For every written question feel free to ask a follow-up question or two, like: “Does anyone else have a thought? This allows several people to respond.
5. Don’t expect group members to respond to you with each answer. They may be tempted to look straight at you solely, especially when the group is new. Instead, you want to see them talking to each other so you don’t have to “broker” the entire discussion.
6. Don’t reject an answer as wrong. Respond to questionable answers by asking, “How did you come to that conclusion?” or “There’s probably a difference of opinion here. Does anyone else have another way of looking at this?” Be affirming to everyone.
7. Don’t be afraid of controversy. Different opinions are good thing.
8. Don’t allow the group to end late. If the discussion proves very fruitful, officially end the group on time, giving the opportunity for those who choose to stay and discuss the issue in more depth.
You don’t need to be an expert or a trained teacher to lead a discussion group. Your role is that of a facilitator who guides the group into a productive conversation that centers on the episodes and studies’ main points. It’s an honor to be able to serve your group in this way.
1. Pace the study. It’s the leader’s responsibility to both start and end on time. Keep up a flexible pace with one eye on the clock and the other on the content. There may be more questions than you have time for, so if necessary, leave some out. Press ahead!
2. Give members the chance to study on their own. But they are free to do so, or not. There is no expectation of prior preparation.
3. Have the Scripture passage read aloud. Or ask several to read. Some may feel uncomfortable to read in public, so don’t make surprise assignments unless you know the person is good with it.
4. Conduct a discussion with the questions supplied. Feel free to ask follow-up questions. Your goal is to NOT get into one answer responses but to start a “conversation” with several people responding to a particular question in a back-and-forth way.
5. Involve everyone, more or less equally. Sit across from quiet people to draw them out and next to talkative people to make less eye contact. If helpful, go around the circle with a question.
6. Be on the alert for too-talkative people. Someone who over-talks can suck the life out of a group. If this is a problem, talk to that member after the meeting and get them on your side by asking their help with getting everyone involve in the discussion.
7. Keep the discussion on track by avoiding tangents. Tangents may seem important but can hurt purposeful discussion, leading the group to talk about less important things. “Important tangents” provide opportunities for conversation outside the group’s time.
8. Have fun with it. Yes, the more enjoyable, the better! Enough said.
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