Facilitation is a skill that can be used in a lot of different ways. Whether you are leading a meeting in your organization, brainstorming new ideas at your workplace, or teaching a small group in your church, the right facilitation skills can help you run discussions more smoothly.
It is the skill of drawing every member to actively discuss a particular topic, leading to a group consensus and actionable response from each participant. –GLC3, Making Disciples 3
If you want to know how to facilitate, I’ll be sharing here 7 rules that you need to establish every time you lead a small group in your church. Most of what I’ll be teaching is from a lesson I learned from my GLC3 course and through personal experience.
1. Explain the Guidelines
First, you need to establish rules between you (facilitator) and the members of your small group prior the discussion. This will help you create order in your meetings as your strive to come up with a consensus within your group
2. Encourage Others to Talk
Not everyone in the group will really want to share. Be sensitive enough to take notice of those who are not participating enough and encourage them to speak up and share their thoughts every once in a while. Don’t force them though. Encourage them to willingly open up.
3. Be an Active Listener
Being an active listener involves a lot of body language. You can nod your head in agreement, establish eye contact to show attention or tilt your body forward to indicate interest. You can also respond by agreeing with short phrases like “ok”, “Uh ah”, or “you’re right”.
4. Ask the Right Questions
I have lead my discipleship group for years already and I can honestly say that, based on experience, asking the right question is one of the important keys to facilitating. Always use open-ended questions. Don’t use questions that will only get you a “yes” or “no” answer because discussions often end with that kind of questions. You can also use greater response questions by asking the participant to describe, summarize, or explain the lesson. Redirecting questions from one participant to the other can also be effective. Or you can also use feedback and clarification questions. Again, the key is to use the right question. Be sensitive to what type of question would be appropriate for a situation.
5. Respond Appropriately to Questions and Comments
Some helpful responding skills are paraphrasing, summarizing or using the sandwich method to correct a wrong statement. You can paraphrase by stating what the person said using your own words. You can summarize it by starting with “correct me if I’m wrong, but this is how I understand it…” and stating some major points from the discussion. The sandwich method or kiss, kick, kiss is an effective way to refocus the discussion if there are points that you don’t agree to. You can say “Thank you for sharing your ideas, but I think this is the correct interpretation for this lesson…but please, do continue sharing your ideas so we can learn from each other.”
6. Conclude by asking each one for a practical application
The goal of facilitating a small group discussion in your church is to end with a practical application point they can do. You can use the SMART acronym to ensure that the course of action is smart, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. Also, remember that the action step should be personal and not copied from anyone.
7. Prepare your heart
This is an additional point I just want to include. It is very important to keep in mind that whenever we facilitate, it is because we want to serve our small group. Facilitation is centred on the participants and not you. You can be very skillful in facilitating, but your members will be able to easily tell if your heart isn’t there. John Maxwell said:
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”
Learning to facilitate well can take time and practice but having the right heart is the first step to being successful in teaching your small group. May we all take the call to lead a discipleship group and facilitate them into knowing God more through His word alone.
How about you, maybe you can share below another tip for facilitation?