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How to Handle Challenges in Your Small Group


1. Keep the big picture in mind:

·        Again, “Christ's method alone will give true success in reaching the people.  The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good.  He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence.  Then He bade them, ‘Follow me.’” Ministry of Healing, p. 143

·        "For the love of Christ constrains us."  2 Corinthians 5:14 –  the love of Jesus should constrain us from being impatient, discouraged, distressed, or discourteous .

·        Pray without ceasing for the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom, strength, and love

·        Pray for your small group members, especially for the difficult ones – as you pray, your love will grow and God will give you greater understanding and patience

·        Remember, how much you love is greater than how much you do!

·        People > programs.


2. Handling distractions:

·        In the beginning, establish rules together – ask, “What would make this small group a great experience?”

·        After the purpose has been clarified, ask, “What are some ground rules we can agree on to reach our purpose?”

·        Brainstorm the rules together & agree on them – for example:

o   Cell phones collected at the beginning of each group session

o   Respect each other – no interruptions or rude comments; pay attention

o   Be on time

o   Be honest & open

o   Whatever is said in small groups stays in small groups

·        Try to find a quiet/secluded place – if not, at least place yourself where the least amount of distraction can happen (ex: leave space near the door, so people don’t have to reshuffle every time)


3. Handling Objections/challenging questions:

·        First clarify & understand the question (by asking them to elaborate or explain why that question was raised)

·        Do not give your opinion – ask the group, “What does the Bible say about this?”

·        It’s ok to say, “I don’t know – Let’s research it together in the Bible and get back to it”

·        Use the Bible concordance, reference (Andrews Study Bible p 1700 – Annotated Theme Index) to discover the answer & come back to it.

·        Check to see if it’s just an intellectual, cognitive pursuit rather than a “real question”

·        Address the heart of the issue rather than just focusing on the minute issue – often, random questions have a bigger need that needs to be addressed (ex: “What’s the unpardonable sin?” might really be asking,” How can I be saved? I feel lost!”) – spend time with the person to see the real need.


4. Handling off-topic questions/comments:

·        Have a Q & A box for your group, so that any off-topic questions can be put there for a designated Q & A time later in the week (make sure you do schedule this and prepare for it)

·        During the discussion, if someone brings an off-topic issue up, kindly say, “That’s a great question/comment – can you put that in the Q & A box so we can come back to it?” 


5. Handling interpersonal conflict:

·        Bring the two people together – go over a few verses in the Bible about forgiveness

o   Ephesians 4:31

o   1 John 1:9

o   Colossians 3:13

o   Matthew 6:12

o   Hebrews 12:15

·        Give them time to think about these verses for a few minutes/hours

·        Ask each person to write down the following sentence for each incident/issue:

o   I felt __(specific emotional words)_____ when you ____(specific thing the other person did)__ because it ___(what the specific consequences were).

o   Ex: “I felt hurt and betrayed when you told someone else what I said during small groups time, because it made me lose trust in you and the group and it made me think you weren’t my friend.”

·        Bring them together into the same room

o   Remind them that they’re there not to argue or accuse or hold grudges, but to reconcile, forgive, and move on

o   Remind them that after this conversation, they will not hold this against each other

o   Remind them not to interrupt but after each person reads one sentence, the other person will just say, “I am sorry that I hurt you.  Will you forgive me?” and the other person should respond, “Yes, I forgive you.”

·        After they’ve read & asked each other for forgiveness, have them hug/shake hands.

·        End with prayer.


6. Handling awkward group dynamics:

·        Split the group into pairs for prayer & sharing, so that they can get to know each other better

·        Spend time with your small group as much as possible – have FUN together

o   Group photos

o   Group chants

o   Group t-shirt designs

o   Group meals

o   Group games

·        Do a group project together (cleaning up, making something, practicing for Showcase, etc.)


7. Handling personal discouragement:

·        PRAY: we get discouraged when we look to ourselves & see our own weaknesses or focus on the problems – when we take it to God, we trust that He cares for His people and that He will strengthen & guide

·        Read Steps to Christ Chapter 8 & 9; Desire of Ages  Chapter 48 & 73

·        Don’t get burnt out!  Talk to someone if you need a break/nap.

·        Have a prayer partner

·        “The key to successful leadership is not creating more time in one’s life or packing more activities into one’s day,  but staying on God’s agenda” (Spiritual Leadership, Henry & Richard Blackaby).



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