This series is brought to you by our guest blogger, Brandon Hudson. Brandon is our Associate Student Pastor here at The Summit Church, specifically giving oversight to our Student Small Group Ministry.
LECTURE VS. LAB
I don’t know what your college experience was like, but I went to a fairly large school. With that came some very big classes, sometimes as big as 500 people! Those classes were good for one thing and one thing only, getting information out to a large number of people. There was little to no interaction and if you had a question, too bad. To supplement these large gatherings, we would also meet in labs which were groups of 8-12 people. In labs, we had a facilitator that led us through a discussion as we asked questions, answered questions and worked together to solve problems.
As we think about the church and student ministry in particular, many have a model that is very similar, with a large student worship gathering followed up by small groups during the week. For small groups to be effective, they need to look and function different than the large group gathering. Here are some tips to help small group leaders in this:
- Guide the conversation. Our counseling pastor once told me that a helpful way to view counseling is to think of the difference between a professor and a tour guide. A professor presents packaged knowledge and stays behind. A tour guide is knowledgable but enters each expedition with the group encountering the unexpected along the way. In the same way, a small group leader guides the conversation and presents prompting questions while allowing the group to take unexpected turns along the way. (The reason many leaders don’t do this is they fear they won’t be able to answer everything if they go off script. Small Group Leader, it’s okay to say “I’m not sure, I’ll look into that!”)
- Silence is golden, not awkward. Don’t fear silence. Asks questions, give them time to think and allow the group to feel the silence. Clarify if you need to but don’t answer the questions for them.
- Don’t ask obvious or yes or no questions. It’s the best way to kill a discussion. No one wants to answer a question everyone knows the answer to.
- Information does not equal transformation. If it did, we wouldn’t need small groups. For people to change, we need to address the head and the heart through modeling right behavior for one another. Small groups doing life together is the best environment for this to happen.