by Theron Cosgrave
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. -- Philippians 4:9
Great small groups have a lot in common with the best classroom experiences. In both settings you'll find...
- Engaging lessons and discussions
- Eager, engaged participants who use what they learn
- Leaders who adapt their plans to meet the needs of the people in the room.
While UCC small group leaders aren't expected to be credentialed teachers, in this blog post we're going to sharpen our pencils and think about two important teaching principles that can help your group be more effective: Active participation and application.
Since people learn best when they actively engage in material, experienced teachers create a variety of ways for their students to interact with the topic at hand. In a similar way, the best small groups avoid passive "sit 'n git" sessions by encouraging the active participation of every group member. There are many different ways to foster participation in small group meetings and activities. Group members can:
- Take part in icebreaker activities
- Read a scripture passage out loud
- Speak up during group discussions
- Listen actively when others speak
- Share prayer requests
- Take turns praying out loud
- Bring snacks for the group
- Host the group in their home
- Facilitate the group discussion
- Plan a group party, outing, or service project
Another key principle of learning is the concept of "use it or lose it" - people remember best when they act upon what they hear, see, or think. This fits well with scriptural urgings that encourage us to put our faith into practice. In the small group setting, the principle of applied learning works itself out in two parts:
Take a minute to think about your next group meeting and jot down some ideas about how you can:
- promote higher degrees of active engagement in all of your members.
- encourage group members to reflect and act upon what they learn.