Strengthening Group Conversations

Too much silence

  • Rephrase the question. Is the answer obvious, or the question confusing?
  • Have them first share in pairs
  • Call on someone you know to answer first
  • If your group tends to be quiet, try starting with an icebreaker or an easy question everyone can answer

Participant who dominates the conversation

  • Direct questions to others in the group: “I’d love to hear from someone who hasn’t shared yet.”
  • Outside of the study, ask the person to be mindful of making space for others 
  • Sit next to the talkative person so you can face toward others and draw them in

Conversations get off on tangents

  • Agree as a group to humorously flag each other to stay on topic
  • Gently re-gather attention and restate the question

Theological questions that go beyond the passage

  • “That’s an important question, but this passage doesn’t really get at it directly. Let’s set it aside for now and maybe go there another time when we can look closely at passages that are focused on that question.”
  • “That’s a great question Christians have been talking about for a long time.  We probably won’t resolve it here, but I’d love to hang out after group with anyone who’d like to talk more.”

Answers don't have a biblical basis

  •  “Interesting; where do you see that in the text?”
  • “What do others think about that?”
  • “We might be getting away from the center of this passage, maybe we could pick up that conversation after group.”
  • “I think I see what you’re saying, but I’m not sure if that’s consistent with verse __ that says …”

Visitors

  • Have everyone introduce themselves, not just the new person
  • Great opportunity to re-explain this style of Bible study as you go
  • Explain any “inside jokes”
  • Consider the level of sharing you are asking of someone who is new

Your group expects you to be the expert

  • Don't fill all the silences
  • Remind them in this format it helps for everyone to contribute
  • Summarize other’s answers rather than answering the question yourself