Hot Tips | Effective Small Groups
1. Guidelines to mention at the beginning of each small group discussion:
(Introduce them as guidelines rather than calling them rules):
- We’d like to hear everyone’s opinions and questions, but no one HAS to talk.
- We want to make sure everyone has time to talk, so please be brief when you share.
- There’s no such thing as a dumb question, ask anything.
- This is a discussion group, so let’s respect everyone’s opinions and not judge or preach.
2. To encourage discussion:
- What do you think about what the speaker said? What parts did you agree with?
- Did the speaker say anything that you disagreed with?
- How did you feel about this talk today?
- Thank you for your honesty. Has anyone else felt this way too?
- Clarification: Can you explain a bit more, or give an example?
Remember: Be careful not to ‘make’ people talk. Silence may be uncomfortable but it’s not a bad thing! If the host always talks, no one else can share. If the host is quiet, group members are more likely to talk.
3. Suggestions for replying to questions:
- Always affirm: That’s a great question! What do the rest of you think?
- Has anyone else had that question too or something similar?
- Clarification: Are you wondering if….
- I’ve asked the same question too. Let’s toss this idea around a bit. Any comments?
4. In response to off-topic or bizarre comments or questions:
- Thank you for sharing your opinion. It’s great to get so many views.
- That’s very interesting. Definitely one way of looking at it. What are some other viewpoints?
- Actually we’ll be discussing that topic in a couple of weeks, do you mind waiting until then or can we chat about it after the small group this evening?
- “Searching Issues”: For questions about suffering, other religions, homosexuality etc, provide booklets of the 7 most common questions on Alpha or the complete book with all 7 topics.
5. A few final reminders:
- Be careful of Christian terms and phrases that others may not understand. Clarify if in doubt! (eg. The Bible, Scripture and the Word of God are all the same book, not 3 different ones!)
- Look for people’s opinions, not to give answers
Tips from Alpha
Whether you’re starting a new small group ministry, re-launching one, or simply looking to grow your current ministry, it takes a lot of work and intentionality. Here are some resources to help.