Small group engagement can be a difficult thing to achieve. From the person who talks too much to the quiet one in the corner, each member is unique in how they approach a group and a topic. Helping members engage takes time and leadership; here are three ways to engage with your group.
1. Ask Questions.
Questions are an extremely important part of engaging others. They give members the opportunity to voice their ideas about a topic and any thoughts that they might have. One thing to remember, however, is that your members may not feel open to answering questions right away. That is where the Leader of the group steps in and takes the lead. Sometimes all people need is to hear an honest open answer from you. Show them how to be vulnerable with each other. When asking a difficult or personal question, pause briefly and then say, “Here… I’ll go first.”
I recently had the opportunity to ask leaders and members in a group on Facebook what their best ways were to engage with their group members.
Here are their answers:
- “We do a high/low question at the beginning of our meeting time. ‘What were the high point of your week and the low point?’ Then we just look for an opportunity to feed off of that during the lesson part.”
- “We always opened with the question of what is God teaching you, or what are you learning about God, or what are you studying now. It was cool to hear about other people’s experiences but also functioned as great accountability because you wanted to have an answer and knew it was coming.”
Another type of question you can ask is “what do you think about the question”. This question is great for pre-written studies and helps get members thinking. Ice breaker questions are also another great way to help open up space and get people talking.
Don’t let one person dominate the conversation.
Sometimes all that your group needs is silence. The quiet ones in the group may just need time to gather their thoughts, and if you move on too quickly they may lose the chance to answer.
“Silence is your friend, don’t be scared of it.”
To avoid embarrassing the chatty person in the group try asking direct questions or ask if others have opinions. Such as “Kathy what did you think of the passage we just read?” or “James what did you think about how the situation was handled in this chapter?”
Pulling chatty Kathy aside isn’t necessary if boundaries and expectations are set at the start of a small group and then reinforced periodically (as needed or as new members join).
However, you may need to draw the over-talkative person aside and explain to them why it is good to let others answer as well. You can even tell them that you really enjoy their input, and ask them to help you get others involved in the conversation.
2. Do things together.
Doing things with your group in and outside of the meeting time is an easy way for your members to engage with one another.
Take your group for an outing. It could look like meeting a need in the church, such as someone who needs help with yard work. You could take the group out for a fun night of activities like hosting a BBQ, bowling, seeing a Christian film, and more. Or you could go out with the Great Commission in mind and reach out to your community.
“If there is a need, lead your group to meet that need. For example, if one of the group members is moving, going through a divorce, or facing another challenging situation, find a way to help. It could be as simple as asking members to make a meal, transport kids, pack boxes, host a baby shower, etc.”-Heather Riggleman 7 Ways to Encourage Real Talk in Small Groups
You could also get your group members to help you set up goals for where your group is going. Setting goals with your members get them more involved. They know where they are going and can step in to help the group get there.
3. Write a Study as a Group.
What better way to promote engagement than to write a study together. Your group may need to be more advanced for this, but writing a study is a cool way to help your group engage with one another. Using a system such as StudyChurch makes this process easier.
With our Study Builder, a leader or church account can write studies and send it out to group members. Send your members home with a chapter or theme in mind and ask them to read. Have them pray and ponder the passage and bring their thoughts to the group next week. Once the group meets back together the following week, listen to what your members have to say and to the discussions that take place. Then narrow down the main topics that were discussed and gather the verses and quotes used.
Small groups are an amazing place to engage with people. I hope that these three tips help you with your small group and that your group grows closer together and to Christ!
Have an idea for more ways to help a group engage? Comment below with your thoughts!