7 Rules in Facilitation

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?

Prayer is Worship

There was once a man who found a bottle and started rubbing it in hopes of finding a genie. And true enough, a genie was awakened after 500 years of sleep. Everyone knows that when a genie appears, a wish naturally follows. So the genie asked the man what he wanted to wish for. The man shared his experience about his recent date when they ate at her favourite risotto place. It took them 3 hours to reach the place because of the traffic, so the man wished for a bridge that would allow them to get to the place faster. The genie felt insulted. He was capable of giving the man anything, everything he wanted and the best the man could wish for was a simple bridge. He told the man to rethink his wish and make another wish that would be worthy of his power. This time, the man then shared that when they were ordering, he asked his date what she wanted and the woman responded that she would just go with whatever he will be having. So he ordered a Pizza. But he was surprised that things started to go sour after that and they ended the night not speaking to one another. This lead the man to wish that he had the ability to understand women better. The genie in desperation responded, “Let’s just go with the bridge”

I don’t know if you understood the joke behind the story (I hope you did J) but when we relate this story to prayer, do we see God as a genie rather than who he really is? When we listen to our prayers, what is it that we hear? Do we hear ourselves usually saying, “I need this”, “I deserve that”, or “I want this”? Do we have an “ask and you will receive” mentality? Have our prayers become too self-focused? Is prayer worship for us?

I would like to share a quote from John R. Rice, one of the most influential fundamentalist pastors, who wrote a best-selling book in 1942 entitled Prayer – Asking and Receiving

”Prayer is not praise, adoration, meditation, humiliation nor confession, but asking. . .  Praise is not prayer, and prayer is not praise. Prayer is asking. .  .Adoration is not prayer, and prayer is not adoration. Prayer is always asking. It is not anything else but asking.”

This type of mentality is wrong and a far-cry from what God expects from us. Prayer is not merely asking. Prayer is worship. How far have we walked from the truth? How far have we twisted the truth just to get what we want? It’s disappointing. This is why we should look into Jesus’ modelled prayer for us.

Matthew 6:9-13

9 “Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’

(1)   Prayer is about the person we are praying to

Take note of these words: Father, your name, your will, Give us, forgive us, do not lead us, delivers us, and for Yours. These are all words directly pointing to God and not us. A successful prayer is a prayer that is centralized on God alone and not on you.  That’s why you start with adoration – a praise that will help you understand who you are approaching. Then you turn to confession, which leads you to understand your sinfulness and nothingness. Once you realize your sinfulness, you understand that He has blessed you with so much that you respond with thankfulness. Again, it’s not about you but about God who was gracious enough to still bless you despite of your pride and shortcomings. It’s his will, not ours. This is clearly expressed after adoration in verse 9, which is verse 10. Through prayer, we need to firmly establish that God’s will be done and not ours as we present our request.

(2)   A prayer of supplication, with the proper perspective, will lead to worship

Why are you praying? Usually because it’s out of your control.

Philippians 4:6 – 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

When we pray, we worship God by presenting our request but at the same time, understanding that He is a God we can trust whether He will answer it or not. This is faith in action. This is where peace comes in. The peace that tells you, it is not in your control now, but God’s. That God is good, faithful and you can trust Him no matter what the answer to your prayer may be. This in turn, makes you worship God even more, as you realize that your supplication is now entrusted to the hands of our sovereign great God.

To sum everything up, remember this point from John McArthur when you pray: Prayer is first and foremost an act of worship. Think about it. Ponder on it. Let it change the way you pray. And let me know through the comment section below what you think about this.

The Secret of Living Rather than Existing

Man has always been very creative. We are always looking for ways to make life easier through the constant advancement of technology. But despite man’s creativity and inventiveness, we are still limited by our own thinking. Ephesians 3:14-21 helps us realize just how great God is, and at the same time, how limited man’s imagination is compared to Him. This truth helps us understand our place, God’s greatness and the power we all have within us as His Children.

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Rather than going through verses 14 all the way through 21, let’s do something different. Let’s start from the last verse and work our way upwards. Verse 21 is a Doxology, a hymn, verse, or form of words in Christian liturgy glorifying God. Liturgy is a form according to which public Christian worship is conducted.

Why is this a significant point to understand? Because as Paul ends the first half of his letter (Ephesians chapter 1 to 3), he ends it at such a high note and with so much emotion.

Verse 21 starts with “To him be glory…” Only those who understand who God really is can express this statement with a strong conviction in their hearts. People who do not know God will feel awkward saying this, but Paul knows how great his God is (verse 20) and he knows He deserves all the glory. The glory should be seen in the church, “To him be glory in the church…” because the word church does not pertain to the building, but to the children of God. His children should show the glory and greatness of God and reflect Jesus Christ (To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus…) I like what John Piper said:

The way the church glorifies God is by simply providing an arena in which the work of Jesus Christ can take effect

As Paul proclaims his doxology in verse 21, “To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations for ever and ever. Amen.” he is expressing that the glory of God is not just for “right now” but for all generations that will pass through time.

This is such a sweet doxology to his God. A declaration of his love to the Lord. A declaration of who his God is for him. And the doxology was possible only because Paul understood how great God is from verse 20 – that He can do more than what we can imagine. Paul was addressing the church. He was able to put his total confidence in God because he knew that God can do more than what our limited minds can imagine or expect to happen. And God can do even greater things that are way beyond our imaginations because of His unfathomable love for us in verse 19. His love that is vast and complete. He’ll do great things in us because he loves us. Love that we cannot possibly comprehend to what extent because it has no end.

That’s why we are always to expect great things from God! Be in faith. Believe that great things can happen. Understand that we have a great God that we cannot even imagine how great. But achieving great things in life requires power that Paul specifically prayed for, for the church. What is sad about Christians today is that a lot of them don’t realize that they have the power to be victorious. We have to understand the unlimited power that Paul prayed for, with the believers/church in mind. The prayer in verses 14 to 19 before going to verse 20. You can have the power to do the work through his Spirit. Power to serve with such love and passion. Power to serve despite physical weariness. Power to serve despite opposition.

Paul prayed for this power. How? Let’s look at Paul’s prayer – verse 14 to 19. Verse 14: For this reason I bow my knees before the Father. The statement “For this reason” means Paul was coming back to what he wrote in chapter 2:

  • You are that new creation
  • Spiritually alive
  • Unified into God’s household
  • As a church, you are the dwelling place of God built on the words and work of the apostles and prophets

Because of this, Paul realizes that he was addressing a church who had the Holy Spirit inside of them. Therefore, power is available! One truth that the church holds on to is that Christ lives in each and every one; therefore you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you. The statement “…I bow my knees before the Father” shows Paul’s ultimate desire for the church. And when he goes on to verse 15 stating “from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name”, Paul prepares his heart to know who he is approaching (from whom), to know who holds time (Whole family in heaven and earth which refers to believers from every era of history, those dead and alive.) and to know where He got his identify (derives its name).  In verse 16 he understands that God’s resources are limitless and available to every believer, hence He can ask for anything.

He then laid down his request for the church, that they may be strengthened with Power. There are 3 ways to plug-in to the power of the Holy Spirit:  (1) Immerse yourself in the word of God, the Bible and believe in his truths, (2) Constantly pray and (3) Obey the leading.

When you immerse yourself in God’s word, pray and learn to remove love for yourself by loving God more (obeying the leading), you come to that point where you just reflect Christ in your heart. And the Holy Spirit, with His power, enables you to know God’s love. As you begin to experience and know God’s love, you are compelled to give totally yourself to him. You reflect the fullness of God in your life when you surrender and just reflect Christ. The fullness that is being talked about in verse 19 is about being full of love for the Lord, NOT the fullness of understanding Him because that is impossible! That God is the only one manifest in your life. You yield to God! Total surrender. Total submission. No more me. But only Christ.

When you finally experience fullness, when God is the only one manifest in your life, Verse 20 now works. God does great things in and through you,  things you can’t even start to imagine. And when you realize He is using you and doing great things that you would have never expected in your life, it drives you to verse 21. A doxology. Praise to our Lord. Praise God! Praise God!

Because with the Power of the Holy Spirit, you can live rather than exist. Live with the Greatness and Love of God being reflected in your Life!

Have you merely just “exsisted?” I would love to hear your thoughts on the comment section below.

Note from the author: This is an excerpt from my message at CCF Alabang entitled “Live Rather than Exist”. We have the following Sunday services 8am, 10am, 12pm and 6pm. Everyone is invited! I would love to meet you if you have time to visit.

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