One of the key responsibilities of our leaders is to take on a group of students that is much smaller than the whole in an effort to build relationships through which spiritual content can be passed and true growth can be encouraged. Jesus took aside His 12 closest followers out of the thousands who followed Him. And even among those 12, He had 3 who were able to witness things no one else could.
Don’t let one person dominate the discussion (even yourself as the leader), and don’t let anyone weenie out of being part of the group. One of the reasons we split into DGroups is to facilitate the deepening relationships, not just between you and your students, but among the students themselves. The best way to accomplish this priority is for them to feel comfortable enough to share their stories and ideas with each other.
This can seem like a daunting challenge when you ask a question and all you get are crickets chirping. Especially for some of our students, they seem like they’d rather you shove bamboo shoots under their fingernails than to actually say 3 words in DGroups. Here are a few ways to pry open even the quietest students:
- Lead with a question you know everyone in the group wants to answer. What was the best thing that happened to you this week? What’s your spirit animal? What’s your favorite joke? What’s your favorite memory with your pet? It’s even better if it lines up with the study, but that’s not necessary. The goal is to get everyone talking and laughing, and you’ll have a much easier time getting them to answer during the meat of the study.
- Ask students directly, and work your way randomly around the room. Carly, what do you think? Ben, what would you do if Jesus did that for you?
- Don’t let the smartest guy in the room dominate. The other students will be happy to let him answer every question.
- Include personal response questions and set the expectation that everyone in the group will answer, and model a vulnerable answer. Here’s one we all answer: What’s the first thing you would do if you couldn’t stand or walk your entire life, and all of a sudden you were healed? I’ll start…
- Measure the temperature of the room, and if you sense some students checking out, find a way to include them in the conversation, read part of the passage, answer a question, act out the story, etc.
Remember, our relationships grow through shared stories and small groups. Let’s become experts at creating an atmosphere of sharing and connection that will lead to spiritual input.