Emphasize from the very beginning that what is shared in the group, stays in the group. Trust is an important component of small group sharing. Nothing will shut your group down quicker than group members feeling as though what they share might be shared with others outside of the group or used against them.
If you have more than 12 members in your group, you should divide into smaller groups of 6-8 members. This will allow for more individual sharing and can help shy individuals from being intimidated by the larger number of faces in the group. Assign a leader to facilitate discussion for each small group.
Getting Into Groups: If you need to get into smaller groups, the configuration of your groups can change each time you meet. Encourage couples to split up in order to achieve better group diversion. Use a different way of assigning groups each time you meet so that members don’t “figure out” what you are doing and “work” the system to be with those they are most comfortable with. Here are a couple of ideas for getting people into groups each time:
- Have group members pick a slip of paper out of a basket with a color on it – group all colors together OR one of each color in each group
- Pick a slip of paper with a number on it – group all numbers together, or all even-odd numbers, or consecutive numbers (1-6, 7-12, etc.)
- Pick a slip of paper with different fruits of the Spirit as found in Galatians 5:22-23 (love, joy, peace, etc.)
- Be creative and come up with a unique idea or even use a tried and true method – the important thing is to help people get into a group!
Ask questions with interest and warmth. Listen carefully to individual answers. Keep in mind that no answer is insignificant; affirm each person’s participation.
Be sensitive to who is doing the talking in your group. Is one person monopolizing the time? Is another person talking about irrelevant information to the topic at hand? Is someone only listening and never offering a thought or idea? As tactfully as you know how, keep the discussion on track and draw out everyone’s ideas. This can be very difficult! Pray for wisdom and courage to keep the group focused and sensitive to all members.