Leading Discussion – Basics and Advanced

“Seven lessons; Seven different Facilitators”  was the closing thought at this fall’s small group leader training.

The point was that to prepare leaders of the future we need to get people out of their comfort zones today, and rotating the job of leading discussion among several members is a great way to ignite that spark in those who currently might feel they could never do such a thing. Our study this fall, Forgotten God:Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit, contains seven lessons. The challenge for our leaders: How many can you delegate?

But along with “igniting” potential new leaders comes a need for equipping. So, this blog post offers our best resources on the skill of leading good small group discussion. Sharpen up your own skills. Share with those to whom you delegate. They are the future leaders of Lake City Small Groups!

General Guidelines for Discussion

In the section titled, “Best Practices: Discussion,” the Lake City Small Groups Toolkit offers these four “Tried and True Guidelines for Success in Leading Discussion.”

  1. Rotate it! Everyone who can lead should, at least once per semester.
  2. Wait 30 seconds after asking a question. Some people take 25 seconds to formulate their answers and get the courage to speak.
  3. Be prepared. Know where to begin; where you want the discussion to go; and where you want to end up. Hold your plan loosely, though, and allow the Holy Spirit’s leading.
  4. Have a takeaway – Don’t end discussion without identifying a way we will all change as a result of it!

Developing the Skill of Leading Discussion

Small Group guru Mark Howell gives “Five Keys to Stimulating Better Discussion” in his article, here.   My suggestion – evaluate how you are doing on each of the five as you read through them; then evaluate which each of your delegates needs your help in developing their skill.

Advanced Application

The most important thing to remember in “discussion” is that we are not here just to impart data. A challenge must be given from God’s Holy Word to change our lives.

Another small groups master, Rick Howerton, suggests that our application of God’s Word should go even beyond merely “going and doing;” it should change us to our core. Read more in his article, “More to Application than Going and Doing.”

Leading Forgotten God Lessons

My small group’s co-leader, Jon Banke, noticed a strategy that works well for Francis Chan’s material. Discussing all 12+ questions in each lesson one by one requires more time than most group have. But, notice the natural groupings that exist among the questions. Rather than trying to get through all 12 questions one at a time, try leading discussion of the three or four groupings that you identified.

For example, say: “Questions 3-6 all deal with the area of __________. Using your answers to each of these questions, share your thoughts about this topic.” 

This is not only more efficient than answering one question at a time, but will allow members to share much more of the “gold” that they’ve mined in their study than time would allow otherwise.   I’m using this method this week. Thanks, Jon!!

Previous posts on This Blog

My goal is to make this blog an exhaustive database of useful resources for our small group leaders.  It’s getting there!  I believe these two previous posts offer great insight into this topic as well.

  1. How Can I Get My Members to Talk?
  2. Answers to the Questions Most Often Asked by First Year Small Group Leaders

Thank you for your time to research and develop this skill, in yourself and in the future leaders of Lake City Small Groups that presently reside in your group, just waiting to be identified and called to leadership!

Blessings on your homes,

Pastor Reg


2 thoughts on “Leading Discussion – Basics and Advanced

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Posts of 2011 « Lake City Small Groups Blog

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