Only Half My Group Showed Up

I found this recent post by Eddie Mosely to be very timely for many of our groups right now.

If not ALL of your group invitees showed up to the first meeting, please read this and consider his pointers on connecting with them:  http://eddiemosley.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/only-half-my-group-showed-up/

Thank you, leaders!

In ministry together,

Pastor Reg

UPDATE, JULY, 2012: If you have stumbled upon this post because the title looked interesting, I want to equip you with THE BEST ice breaker to have in your arsenal for the week when only half of your group shows up. See the idea, from a post in July, 2012, here: http://lakecitysmallgroups.com/2012/07/19/best-small-group-ice-breaker-ever/

How Can I Get My Members to Talk?

If someone is not participating in your group discussions, chances are they may be discouraged or frustrated by being in your group. Whether or not  everyone in your group talks, these ideas will help you develop your own facilitating skills.

(Copied from Mark Howell’s Blog; originated from Allen White’s)

1. How large is your group?

Quiet people tend to disappear in large groups.  The quick solution is to make your group smaller.  If your group has more than eight people, then sub-group during the discussion.  I do this with my group that meets in a restaurant.  When it’s time for the discussion, we divide it down the middle.  One half of the table turns toward each other to discuss, and the other half does the same.  It works.  Everybody can get their word in.

Another way to get quieter folks to talk during the discussion is called “Neighbor Nudging.”  It goes like this: “Okay, on this next question, turn to the person next to you and discuss it, then we’ll come back together again.”  Every person is at least talking to one other person.

If your small group is beginning to look like a small church, it might be time to think about sub-grouping on a permanent basis.  As Andy Stanley says, “It’s not a small group if it has a back row.”

2. Who tends to answer first?

If your more talkative members are the first to answer every question, then it’s time to have a conversation with them.  For some pointers on dealing with talkative members, check this post: They Keep Talking and They Won’t Shut Up.  If someone is dominating the conversation, then your quieter members won’t try to enter in.

If you, as the leader, are the first to answer the questions, stop it.  Count to 10.  Count to 100.  Give your group an opportunity to answer.  If you answer every question, the discussion will be inhibited because you have gone from facilitating to teaching.  The teaching gift is awesome, if you have a class. Your small group is not a class.

3. Get comfortable with silence.

Silence is deafening.  We don’t talk about awkward noise.  It’s awkward silence.  But, in your small group, silence is golden.  It allows people to think.  Silence also allows reluctant people to finally chime in.

4. Assume that your members didn’t prepare.

We used to say that statistically half of group members do homework and half don’t.  These days I think far fewer group members prepare for the meeting.  Don’t get on your soapbox, just go with it.  As the leader, you’ve looked over the questions and thought about the answers.  Since your group members are coming in cold, they will need a little time to think about the answers and respond.  Allow for a little thinking time.  Refer back to #3.

5. Talk to Your Quiet Members Post-Meeting.

If they didn’t have anything to say during the meeting, talk to them about the topic after the meeting.  Hear what they think.  Give them positive feedback about what they have to say.  (Don’t lie.) “That’s a really good point.  Wow, I wish you would have shared that with the group.”  Each touch will build their confidence to participate in the group.

The last thing you want in small group is yet another environment where someone can’t get their word in. The early church met in temple courts and house to house (Acts 5:42). The large gathering was informational and inspirational. The smaller gathering was interactive.

How are you going to help your quieter group members this week?

Answers to the Questions Most Often Asked by First Year Small Group Leaders

Whether you’re  a new leader, a veteran with some very common questions, or maybe open to leading a small group in the near future, here are some helpful resources given by small group guru Rick Howerton, with a couple of my own additions.

Just click on the title to go to a blog post on that particular topic.

What do I do about the overly talkative group member?

Suggestions for Helping the Overly Talkative Group Member

What should I do when most of the small group doesn’t show up for the group meeting?

When Only a Few People Show Up for the Group Meeting
Leftover, When a Small Group Gets Smaller

How do I get group members to talk more during the meeting?

The Importance of Conversations Between Meetings

How do I get group members to make a meaningful commitment to the small group?

Small Group Covenants, Why Covenant, How to Covenant

How can I bring our Bible study time to life?

Journeying, Five Necessities for Guiding Your Group Beyond Bible Study

How do we handle confrontation in the group?

Confronting in Small Groups, Wisdom from Joel Comiskey

Lake City Small Group’s resource articleConflict Resolution – a Biblical Model for LCCC

How do I make sure that our conversational Bible study isn’t a night of shared ignorance?

Bible Study, A Night of Shared Ignorance

What should we do about childcare!?

Lake City Small Group’s Childcare Statement

Our season of training and kick-off is just about here!  Blessings and prayers on your preparations. I look forward to our ministry, for His glory throughout the earth,

Pastor Reg