What do we need to do to create an environment in our classes where people talk? How can we set it up so members are eager to discuss God’s Word and life? How can we make it safe for them to do so?
Real Life Ministries produced 12 Simple Small Group Guidelines to help group leaders create an “environment that is safe for transparency, vulnerability, and growing closer in relationship with each other and with God?” That is a good descriptor of the kind of environment needed in Sunday School classes where participants meet God in Bible study and encourage one another in living out the change God expects.
Here are the big phrases in their guidelines:
- safe group,
- no ‘cross talk,’
- no fixing,
- no rescuing,
- be self aware,
- use ‘I’ statements, and
I encourage you to read 12 Simple Small Group Guidelines. Your class will benefit from these guidelines. But recognize that many of our classes are not prepared for them yet.
How could you lead your class to be prepared for them? I believe it takes a leader with the vision for this kind of environment–even if the leader is unsure about how to bring it about. Secondly it takes a leader who prays and cares for the group. When we see the potential for more than is being accomplished in the lives of class members, we are willing to make adjustments in the environment.
Third, I believe the leader will be more successful in leading in this direction when he/she develops a plan to do so. What needs to be done first, next, etc.? Fourth, the vision, prayer, and plan need periodic review to see if progress is being made.
At this point, gather a leadership team to help with the adjustments. Share the vision, call them to prayer, have them review the plan, and then gather them regularly to ensure forward movement. Finally, lead the class to develop or agree to a class covenant that includes these guidelines. This is a way of leading the class to see the value and commit to support the adjustments needed.
When the class becomes a safe place for honest conversation, then life change can occur. When group members really listen and conversation is confidential, then life change can occur. When we use pause and allow silence to encourage healthy conversation and help, then life change can occur. When we avoid cross talk, fixing, and rescuing, then life change can occur. When we share the time, are self aware, use ‘I’ statements, and work to resolve conflict, then life change can occur.
Create an environment where your class members want to talk and realize doing so will help self and others. This adjustment is needed now! Start praying and leading in this direction. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!