Talk With a Pen

by Sue Skalicky

When a group member is silent during our small-groups discussions, I wonder if she has thoughts whirling around in her mind but feels uncomfortable expressing them. So when we began a new study two months ago, I decided to give each person a spiral notebook to use as a journal during our meetings. I have varied how and when we use the journals, allowing each person different ways of expression. Here are a few of the methods we used.

Take five. Ask the group to write on a certain topic for five minutes without stopping. They must write the entire five minutes, even if they simply write, "I don't know what to write." This helps break the scriptophobia (fear of writing) barrier. Or, ask them to write for five minutes as they finish a though such as "I love...," or "I fear...," or "I am passionate about..."

Write a letter. During prayer, ask each person to write a personal letter to God.

Brainstorm words. Give your group members one minute to write down as many descriptive words as they can about the topic you are discussing.

Talk to the page. If a discussion question is personal or requires thought, give group members a few minutes to write their answers in their journals.

After each journaling exercise, I always offer an opportunity to share what's been written. Those who are usually very quiet are now finding their voice during discussions. Journaling during the meeting has enhanced our time together and has also spurred many to begin journaling at home. They now leave each week with their minds tickled, their hearts invaded, and a pience of the discussion tucked under their arms.

~from Discipleship Journal, May/June 2002