Imagine these people are attending a new small group, they do not really know each other or have any significant background about one another.
- Paul -his group experience has been one where the leader did everything
- Karen and Joe – have never been in a small group
- Sue – in her last group, leadership was shared around the group with different people having different roles
- Trevor -has experienced a group where prayer & singing took up 50% of the meeting time
- Gail’s- past group made coffee & dessert their central focus
- Jim & Leah- have experienced a small group where gossip caused difficulties
- Kim -was used to a group where it did not really matter if you turned up when the group meeting was scheduled
Would these people automatically have a shared understanding of what might happen in their group meetings? Would they have clarity about how their group might function on any given meeting night?
Each member of this imaginary small group would come with different expectations about what the group might look like and how it will operate. Some may even be a little apprehensive! It is important to make time to talk through and reach agreement about how the group will operate and help each member understand what others are expecting. A helpful time to do this is at your first meeting.
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One simple thing I encourage new groups to do is to complete a very short exercise. Hand out a sheet of paper with these questions on it;
- What would you like to see happen in this group? What steps are you willing to take to make it come about?
- What would you not like to see happen in this group (gossip, lack of commitment, wasting time etc)
Ask group members to answer the questions in silence. When everyone has completed their sheet, lead a discussion around those written responses. It is a wonderful way to create clarity at the beginning of your small group journey together. I also encourage the leader to bring into the conversation things which are important to healthy group life. (ie confidentiality, participation, meeting start, finish times, mission etc.)
I have found this a very successful exercise which empowers groups to create clarity and enables them to develop a list of simple guidelines for their group. I would love to hear your ideas on how you create group clarity!