Tips on using the video curriculum with small groups.
If we could suggest a goal for your group it would be that each member will grow in listening for and responding to the Word that God is always speaking.
- Opening praise and adoration, prayer to welcome God’s presence
- Video: teaching (~20 minutes)
- Reflection and sharing
- Video: guided prayer (~5 minutes), continue in prayer as God leads
We have found the following themes helpful for group facilitation:
Christian fellowship is most transforming when group members keep their faces turned up towards the Lord rather than horizontally towards one another. Beginning each meeting with praise and adoration of God helps the group maintain this healthy posture.
Space for silence
Holding space for silence throughout the meeting gives group members a chance to practice listening for God’s voice. When we’re new to this practice it can be easier to practice with the quiet support of others than when we’re alone. You can shape the group’s comfort with silence through your own comfort and desire to make space for God’s still, small voice. Model silence with your own body language and by leaving generous pauses after each group member shares. If group members are talking over one another, don’t be afraid to guide the group by saying, “Let’s pause for a moment and each quietly listen to what the Lord is speaking right now,” or, “Let’s leave room to see if anyone who hasn’t shared yet has something they’d like to say.”
Many small-group studies focus on the intellectual study of scripture or theology. This curriculum will do its best work on a heart level, and we find that intellectual understanding often comes after the heart apprehends and responds to God’s initiative. Group members may be particularly tempted to rational analysis during the reflection and sharing portion of the meeting. One simple practice that can reduce this temptation is to use a “no cross-talk” approach. This means that group members listen to one another’s sharing with curiosity and mutual support, refrain from responding to one another with answers or advice. Group members are encouraged to share their questions. The objective of the group is to welcome God to speak to each members’ wonder, longing, struggle or confusion, and so we refrain from offering our human answers and instead make space to listen for His.
Moving with the Spirit
Even as you offer good structure and guidance for your group, we encourage you to keep your spiritual eyes and ears open to how God is moving. For example, you may be prompted to use laying on of hands, to continue a theme in prayer beyond the video, to sing and praise God together, to end a meeting with an time of quiet rest in God’s presence, to postpone the sharing time and move directly from the teaching into the guided prayer, or skip the sharing time entirely. Welcoming group members to share their impressions of how God is leading, and taking the risk as the leader to invite the group to try something new are good practices for any who wish to walk in the Spirit.
With that flexibility in mind, we suggest this basic rhythm for your group meetings:
- Praise and adoration. In our experience, there is no substitute for joining together to worship God in song. Whether you sing along to a recording or are blessed with musicians in your group, we encourage you to begin each session in this way. Open with prayer, invoking God’s presence. Involve your group members in prayer, either by asking one or two to pray, or allowing space for each member to speak out a simple prayer.
- Teaching. Each video is 15-20 minutes in length. We’ve provided a notes page for each session, linked in the video description. These notes include scriptures and other references so that group members can focus on the heart-meaning of what is being shared.
- Reflection. Immediately after the video, invite your group to a couple minutes of silence to let the teaching settle and notice how God is stirring their hearts. After this pause you can invite members to both write in their prayer journals and share with one another. Some sharing prompts you might find helpful: What felt meaningful to you in this teaching? What longing or desire in your life was touched on in this session? Is there a question you have for the Lord after hearing this? How is God stirring in your heart? Did this teaching touch on any area of confusion or difficulty for you? If it seems that some members are dominating the sharing time, suggest that the group leave some quiet space to see if someone who hasn’t spoken yet would like to share.
- Prayer. Model active engagement with the guided prayer time, standing, kneeling, lifting hands, etc. Have tissues on hand for moments when the Spirit grants the gift of tears. When the video ends, notice whether your group members seem ready to end the prayer time or are continuing to dialog with the Lord, and encourage the group to stay in that prayerful posture until the time seems complete. Close the meeting with a simple prayer, asking God’s protection and blessing over His ongoing work in each member and the life of the group.