Small Group: A Place for Building Friendship and Growing Together – “Heart-to-Heart: Loving Church” Series
An enjoyable small group with good sharing and support helps believers better live their faith, act on truths, and love each other in a complicated society as well as in life. Presence launched the Empathetic Group Facilitation Training (EGFT) last year with a goal to train some mature brothers and sisters how to facilitate group sharing so that members can open their hearts to openly share their thoughts and needs in life in a positive, safe environment.
Based on the response to a survey regarding small groups we conducted earlier, we found that generally people have certain expectations of small groups, and even higher expectations of small group leaders. Besides expecting group leaders to have rich Bible knowledge and be spiritually sound, they looked for leaders who can lead effectively so that members can have a pleasant sharing experience and build relationships. The response also showed the certain impact of the pandemic on small group life and how people interacted with each other. Some believers felt that online small groups were not that engaging, and it affected the quality of interaction and relationship. Despite the reopening of churches, some people have already stopped going to church for different reasons.
In order to help small group leaders lead discussion on some practical topics without too much pressure, Presence has been working hard over the past two years to compile our teaching resources into small group materials, which include videos, Bible passages, discussion and sharing questions. Here is a sharing by Rebecca of San Gabriel Valley Alliance Church on her experience of using the materials:
I have been a Christian for many years and have literally grown up with small groups. At times I have been serving as a small group leader. Since I never received training on how to lead a small group, I basically learned how to lead through experience. This time our small group decided to use Presence’s “Relationship Cultivation among Three Generations in Chinese Families” material set because of the life stage of our members. I have been a grandma for many years, and some of our members not only have three generations, but they all live under the same roof, so this topic is very applicable.
The chapter I led was “Love Languages.”* Since the group members were kind of familiar with the subject matter, we had a vibrant sharing. Though in the beginning we thought it was a familiar topic, we had new discoveries about our own “love languages” and of our family members. The new insight and sharing were truly invaluable.
I would like to point out that even with such good material, a trained small group leader is crucial. I found that the skills I learned from the “Presence Life Planning Curriculum Trainer’s Program” help me avoid some common mistakes made by group leaders. I applied the skills in facilitating small group discussion, listening to members’ heartfelt sharing, and providing a safe environment for members to discuss and open up to each other.
It is our prayer that by equipping brothers and sisters with practical training, Presence can help them incorporate elements that positively impact their lives of their small group members. As believers pursue truth, may they also experience more spiritual friendship among Christians, the joy of growing together, and journeying toward what the Bible depicts, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17 NIV)
* “Love Languages” is the first chapter of “Relationship Cultivation among Three Generations in Chinese Families” (currently available in Mandarin only). The other topics are: “Balancing Give and Take,” “Setting Boundaries between Honoring Parents and Raising Independent Children,” and “No Hurtful Remarks to Your Loved Ones.” The materials build on each other, and through learning and discussion on communication skills and good attitude-building, help group members renew the three generations’ relationships, improve communication, and enhance mutual respect and acceptance.
Written by: Presence Editors
Presence Quotient®, also known as Presence, is a Christian 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has supported Christian and family values since 2003. We aim to raise up a new generation for the cultural mission — equip individuals and families to bridge the cultural and generational gaps and to live a unique life with wisdom.
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