Less monologue, more dialogue in your small group.

This is the second post in a series based on an article from Thom Rainer called, Five Obstacles Facing Small Groups.  

Rainer states:

Another obstacle to transformational small communities is that teaching is valued more than learning. We have already pointed out the danger of only recruiting the uber-qualified as leaders for classes and groups. The goal must be that people are joyfully learning, not that one person is happy teaching. Leaders should focus as much on application of the truth as the delivery of it. For small groups to be transformational, they should include monologue and dialogue. Leaders of groups should always have these questions in mind:
How well are members applying God’s truth?
Where is each participant with the Lord?
Remember the agenda is Christ being formed in the lives of those involved in your small group.

Last week we discussed  the idea that discipleship is the end goal of small group learning, not only scholarship.  Life change, or transformation, is our goal.  This week we have a look at another obstacle.  As a teacher, it’s is easy to get caught of in the act of teaching to the degree that whether or not people are actually learning is lost in the effort.  Don’t get me wrong.  We need teachers who enjoy teaching.  Lessons from teachers who don’t enjoy teaching are painful to endure.  However, I remember having a teacher in Sunday School who was so enamored with his lesson, illustrations, and finishing his outline that the class never actually engaged with the content.  We may as well have ordered the lessons on podcast and  listened at home individually.  That misses the point of Sunday School.

The goal must be that people are joyfully learning, not that one person is happy teaching.

That makes me laugh, but it’s true!  Effective small groups have monologue and dialogue.  This is part of the reason that I like to refer to Sunday School units as small groups, not classes.  Classes can very well be all about the lecture.  Small groups engage each other in life in the context of God’s Word.empty class

Rainer concludes this point with 2 questions.

How well are members applying God’s truth?

I think that one of the most effective ways to drive this result is with good questions.  Good questions encourage interaction with concepts and ideas.  Practical questions force learners to apply the truth to their lives.

Where is each participant with the Lord?

Teachers are leaders, and leaders spend time in prayer and meditation about the spiritual state of their followers.  When teachers are considering this question, the lessons they teach will be much more relevant and effective.  Ask the Lord for guidance in discerning the hearts and needs of your people.

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