Small Groups Guide
Getting the Discussion Going
You are going to have a phenomenal small group study. We are absolutely certain that no one will be the same after you’ve worked your way through this powerful method of viewing your Christian life. You are going to have the opportunity to host a study that will have a direct and profound effect on many generations to come. We are confident that the role you play as a small group facilitator will enable many parents as well as their children to be able to focus their life on the things that really matter.
The purpose of this small group guide is to give you some pointers on getting the most out of your small group dynamic. There are excellent study guides with simple instructions in all the materials listed on the Small Groups page.
Some materials are further equipped with an Enhanced Study Guide with additional discussion questions, application opportunities and more scripture to help you and others go deeper into these life changing messages. Please allow yourself and the other participants the freedom to spend as much time as possible, either in the group or at home, focusing on these enhanced study tools. Also, feel free to choose and take whatever fits your group and your time frame. No one will be checking up on you to see if you finished every question. These studies are for the benefit of you and those in your group, so have fun on your journey to “true greatness”. With that in mind, let’s get started.
A checklist for your success
1. Determine a Format
One of the best things you could do to facilitate your study is to read the book in its entirety before you start leading people through it. Once you understand Dr. Kimmel’s argument and know where each chapter is ultimately leading, you’ll have a much better ability to direct the discussions.
Once you’ve done this, you need to decide what your time frame is going to be. If you are using this in a church setting, you will have to adhere to a strict clock in order to get through all of the parts of each lesson. If you are studying this in an informal setting, like a home, you’ll probably be able to give more time to the discussion section of the study.
Make sure you keep an eye on the clock. If it seems that the discussions are too rich to handle in one session, don’t be afraid to pick them up the next time you come together. But the ideal is to spend one session on each chapter. If you carry a discussion over, it’s best not to go longer than two weeks on a chapter so that you’re sure to finish the entire book.
As you lead each session, there may be another question that is burning inside of you to be asked. Feel free to substitute your question or add to the ones that are already there.
2. Assure Effectiveness
- Don’t Work Alone – Recruit another person or couple to co-lead this study with you.
- Order Books – Make sure that each person/couple has a copy of the book you are studying. Many like to underline it as they go. Encourage them to mark the sections they want to read again. We have bulk discounts on books in our Store.
- Keep the Group Size under Control – The ideal discussion size for a small group is 4 to 5 couples or 8 to 10 participants. If you are doing this study in a Sunday school or retreat setting, you should have the large group break down into smaller, more manageable groups. It is also more effective if the discussion groups are made up of the same individuals for the duration of the study.
- Encourage Attendance – Although the books are designed to be read by individuals, there is nothing like the power of group discussion to get the essence of these books to seep deeper into the crevices of one’s heart. But so much is missed if a person skips over chapters because they missed the study. Once the study begins, encourage everyone to make the commitment to attend each lesson. This will not only enhance the value of the complete study for them, but also enable your group to develop deeper and more meaningful dialogue.
- Encourage Individual Participation – the study will be more enjoyable if everyone gets involved in the discussion. Some people are naturally talkative while others are great listeners. You want to make sure that the “talkers” don’t dominate the discussion while at the same time making sure that the “listeners” have a voice in the dialogue. One way to get the “listeners” to share their insights is to direct a question to them that requires more than a “yes” or “no” answer.
- Maintain Focus – It would be easy for the participants to go in many directions during the discussion. It would also be easy for some of the questions to lead to a tangent that critiques other parents and children. It’s important that the sessions work toward helping the participants be more effective parents. You need to make sure the discussion stays focused on the question and the theme of that particular session by reminding them of the purpose of their discussion before they get started.
- Application, Application, Application – The most important part of what you are doing is how it helps the participants become better parents. You want to make sure that you reserve enough time for them to respond to application questions. Seeing parents allow God to change them and make them more effective in their role is going to make all of your efforts worth it.
- The Power of Prayer – It’s great to tie a bow on each study with prayer that speaks to the issues most urgent to the people involved in the study. Close off by asking God for His help in taking what you’ve learned as a group and turning it into individual benefit. If you have the time, you might want to encourage requests regarding specific problems they are having within their family.
3. Small Group Techniques
- Promote interaction! Your role is to facilitate conversation; allow participants to hold each another accountable.
- Give everyone a chance to speak; don’t allow the talkers to dominate the conversation. Encourage those who are quiet to participate by directly asking them a question (yes, we said it again – it’s that important).
- Set the pace by being honest and transparent yourself.
- Use humor and share personal stories.
- Don’t be afraid of silence. Sometimes you have to wait
- for a response, especially when the subject matter is difficult.
- Allow participants to cry if they are hurting. Show your group that you genuinely care.
- Be excited about accomplishments! Applaud transformation.
4. Give Them Something to Take Home
- All of the materials in the Small Groups page were written to see lives transformed into powerful forces for God’s love, mercy, and grace. Always spend a few moments discussing specific ways you can turn what you’ve just learned into actions that make a difference.
5. Group Commitments That Insure Success (You might want to read these at the first meeting.)
- Courtesy - Each participant should commit to arriving at each session on time.
- Acceptance - Each participant should affirm the other participants’ verbal contributions.
- Confidentiality - Each participant should be careful not to talk about personal issues shared by fellow participants outside the context of this study.
- Candor - Each participant should be forthright and truthful when they speak.
- Respect - Each participant should be careful not to stand in judgment, give quick advice, or criticize his or her fellow parents. The goal is to make the group a safe place for people to talk about how to live their lives for true greatness and show their kids how to do it too.
- Once you have completed your study, discuss with your small group which of Dr. Kimmel’s books you would like to do next. If you haven’t already, we recommend Grace Based Parenting. This is a great book to start with. We also recommend Raising Kids Who Turn Out Right and Raising Kids For True Greatness. These three books give a complete picture of a parenting plan that brings the best out of kids and grooms them for a life that will never let them down.
- We’d love to hear how your study of true greatness affected you. Encourage participants to write us at Family Matters®, P.O.Box 14382, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-4382. Or email us your feedback to Family at FamilyMatters.net.
- Spread the Message Around - Encourage participants to lead their own small group study starting with the one they just finished. This will not only enable more parents to learn how to transfer the dynamic qualities of the message they just received, but it will also enable the leaders of a study to solidify the message into their heart as well as grow in their roles as parents as well. If you need to order more books, you can order them from Family Matters Store or calling our toll free number 800-467-4596.
- A Small Group Reunion - You might want to gather your group together six months after you have completed your study in order to get updates on how they are doing with continuing the application in their lives. It would also be a good time to pray for each others’ children.