One of my favorite parts of serving full time in ministry is working with small groups. I’m part of a adult small group, coach 4 adult small group leaders, and oversee the youth small groups at the church where I serve on staff. I guess you could say that small groups are a large part of my job. I love small groups. Small groups are where both youth and adults can build meaningful relationships and grow as they discuss what God is doing in their lives. Jesus led a small group while we was with the 12 disciples. There are lots of things I could say about small groups. But there is one element of small groups that I want to focus on in this post. Can you guess what element that is? Yep, you guessed it. Silence.
As a member or a leader of a small group, silence can be frustrating, awkward, intimidating, unbearable, but most of all, I believe silence can be very deceiving. One thing I’ve personally experienced while working with small groups is I have been quick to become frustrated and assume that if people are not talking then they are not “getting” it. I have learned that this assumption at times is far from the truth.
Don’t misunderstand me. I do believe that for the best small group experience to take place it must be a group effort. Group members must come prepared and ready to receive. Often people show up unprepared and totally not ready to receive. Group members must be ready to share and discuss what God is teaching them. Often group members do not share what the Lord is doing in their lives. This can be frustrating.
But, I have also realized that the kid on the couch or the adult that appears to be lost in space during discussion, may actually be “getting” it. People grow at different paces, learn differently, and soak up Gods truth differently. Some may be actually convicted by Gods truth and are taking time to wrap their minds around the truth God is working in their heart.
The struggle as a leader is that we want everyone to discuss. We want everyone to engage. And we are deceived into believing if Tommy doesn’t speak that he must not be growing. This isn’t always true. Silence can be deceiving.
As a group leader or member, don’t give up on those who are slow to share or seem lost in space. God may really be at work. In fact, he is totally at work. Now if you have a whole small group that will not discuss, then you have a problem, and need a serious ice breaker.
As a member or leader don’t give up. Be prepared. Be transparent. Don’t be deceived by the silence.