When I was young, there was a popular game called “World of the Most” that was a common activity to play during church fellowship. The game began with the host calling out a description for an unspecified quality, such as “the biggest” or “the longest”, then each group would send one representative from their group that they thought might fit that description. Everyone was into the game, and it was really fun.
Today, small group life is an integral part in the growth of a believer. Through sharing and mutual support, a vibrant small group life helps believers learn how to live out their faith, practice the truth, and love each other in a complex society and life. This year, Presence will launch a small group facilitator skills training to train some mature brothers and sisters on how to encourage discussion and cultivate a positive, safe environment for group members to share their thoughts and needs in life. We conducted a survey to explore what parts of a small group are “the most” in different situations. We are grateful that the responses helped us see the needs of small group members, as well as that of group leaders. May it also give you an opportunity to look into small group life as we begin this new year.
THE MOST FAVORABLE ENVIRONMENT
- Freedom to share thoughts and views, feel respected and accepted, but not judged.
- Studying the Scriptures with applications.
THE MOST TERRIBLE SITUATION
- Dead silence or some members talking too much.
- Group members being divided and arguing with each other, especially about politics.
- Group leader teaching and doing all the talking.
THE BEST LEADER FOR GROUP MEMBERS
- Warm and approachable.
- Balancing the needs of the group members.
- Good control of time, effectively leading and redirecting discussions to the main topic.
- Appropriate responses to group members’ sharing and creating a loving and respectful environment that encourages participation.
- Spiritually sound but not legalistic.
THE MOST CHALLENGING SITUATION FOR GROUP LEADERS
- Group members are indifferent and do not take ownership of the group. This situation has gotten worse during the pandemic, since group members are unwilling to join small groups, whether in-person or online.
- Group members being disconnected, holding grudges, and not trusting one another.
- No motivation to grow or be transformed.
- Having unrealistic expectations of group leaders.
- Certain group members being bossy and arrogant.
THE BEST ACTIVITY OR ELEMENT THAT BUILDS RELATIONSHIPS
- Small group games that encourage interaction.
- Dividing into small groups to pray after discussion.
- Hanging out together beyond small group time.
- Group members taking initiative to care for each other.
These are just some of the responses we skimmed through in the survey and grouped into various aspects of “the most” of small group life. Just wondering, does it put a smile on your face, or can you identify with these responses? When people are grouped together but come from different backgrounds and have different personalities, it is inevitable to have issues in small group life. However, some people who are disappointed with small groups have chosen to leave. Presence would like to come alongside brothers and sisters by equipping them with practical training, so that they can incorporate elements that impact lives into their small group. May believers experience more friendship among Christian friends and the joy of growing together. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17 NIV) Genuine transparency and sincere sharing in Christ is golden.
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