The way that you apply any given Scripture is flavored by your life experiences. It’s inevitable. Hopefully you don’t rely on your life experiences as your interpretive grid, but to work through applications based on where you find yourself in life is appropriate (sorry…I’ll stop the hermeneutics lesson now).
I find myself as a small groups pastor, getting ready to train new small groups leaders. I’m reading through Scriptures, and as I do, small groups applications come to mind. Here’s what I read:
Be quick to listen, slow to speak. -James 1:19
Small group leaders need to remember this when leading their small group:
1. Listen intently to people’s stories. Knowing where somebody has come from and why they gave that particular answer will be unbelievably helpful for you as you lead that person. Listening to and remembering people’s stories makes them feel that you care, and is a way you can love your group members.
2. Ask questions and wait for answers. Don’t ask a question and give your answer first. Let others chew on it and share their thoughts. Some people are slower to answer than others. They may be more contemplative and take longer to process their answers. Or, they may simply be polite and not want to talk over anybody. As the group leader, be okay with silence.
3. Observe body language. Communication happens verbally and non-verbally. Don’t neglect either.
4. Ask follow-up questions. Instead of taking an answer at face value and moving on, linger for a while. Ask a follow-up question that draws the answer out a bit more. Ask the group for feedback. Listen for similarities and differences in response, and connect them.
The goal of a small group is not for the “right” answer to be the first answer.
Work to facilitate discussion.
Work to listen more and talk less.