One of the core skills needed to lead a group, is the ability to lead group discussion. And I feel like a great group discussion should look a lot like a good dating relationship.
Ideally, when you start dating someone, everything is light and fun at first. You try to laugh and generally see if you like each other. Then as you move forward you get a little deeper and ask about politics and values. Then, as time progresses, you start talking about even more personal things, and the future, and those kinds of things.
A good group discussion should proceed just like that.
Start with a fun and light question that somewhat relates to what you’re talking about that night. For example, if you’re talking about “what you value most” you could start with, “If your house was on fire, what is the one thing, besides your family and computer you would save”? It’s light and fun and helps the group get to know each other better.
Then you move into general discussion. This is where you ask objective questions and refer to “those people out there.” You can ask what people found most interesting in the text you’re reading. Or ask questions like, “What do you think people would find hardest about this text?” Or, “Why do you think so many people struggle with jealousy?” It’s safe because people can talk about “those people,” without having to share about themselves personally.
Finally, you bring it home by making it personal. This is the “What about you….” question. This is where you ask, “What do you find most difficult about this text?” Or, “To what extent do you struggle with jealousy?” As a discussion leader, it’s important to know that you set the tone. People will only go as deep as you go, so when you get to this part of the discussion, be prepared with your own answer. Be real and be honest. If you’re vulnerable, they’ll be vulnerable. If you don’t have problems, then they won’t share theirs.
Here’s a few other ways leading discussion is like a dating relationship:
– It can be messy sometimes. People’s feelings will get hurt, and sometimes people are misunderstood.
– The deeper you go and the longer you spend with a group the more faults you see in each other.
– A trusting group that had a great discussion will only be developed in time as everyone in the group invests themselves in the group.
– Discussion is a two-way street. Share about yourself a little, then be interested in the group. No one likes a person who only talks about themselves.