Leading people is not for the faint of heart. Though rewarding, it can sometimes be frustrating and challenging. People are messy and groups are made up of people. But, remember, your role as a group leader is to help everyone in your group take one next step throughout the season– even the challenging ones. Some of the common “challenging people” that you may encounter, and some tips on approaching them with grace.
1) The Over-Talker
These people always have plenty to say, and love to be the first person to say it. Remind everyone in the group guidelines that this is an equal participation group. So if you have 10 people in the group, you want each person to contribute to 10 percent to the discussion.
If the problem continues, talk them outside of group. Affirm their contribution to the conversation, and enlist their help in getting some of the other people in the group to open up and share. Sometimes you may want to ask them to commit to not being the first person to answer a question—or to even work out a subtle signal you can give when they are talking too much.
2) The Non-Talker
These people are quiet and never want to share. If you think that doing so won’t scare them off even more—that a little prompting is needed—try calling on them periodically to share an answer. Also, be sure to affirm big time when they do respond.
If that doesn’t work, talk to non-talkers outside of group. Again, affirm them in what they do contribute, and let them know that you want more people to get to hear their perspective. Remind them how valuable all of the different perspectives are to the entire group.
3) The Tangent-Starter
These people love to get the group way off track by starting random tangents and rabbit trails. First of all, don’t get upset at the tangents, and feel free to go off on them once in a while. When the time comes, firmly bring the group back on track.
If the problem becomes excessive, talk to tangent-starters outside of group. Affirm them in what they do contribute, and convey the challenge the tangents create as you are trying to facilitate a good group and focus on certain points each week. Ask the person how they can help you keep the group on track.
4) The Insensitive Person
These individuals give advice, make fun of answers and people, cut people off, or do other things to offend members within the group. These people are dangerous to the health of your group. They can keep it from being a safe group more quickly than anything else. So remind everyone of the group guidelines again, and definitely have the one-on-one conversation outside of group to let insensitive people know how important a safe group is, and what they can do to help make that happen.
We’re here to help!
From time to time, you may encounter a situation that is beyond what you believe you can handle. If that happens, your coach and pastors are here and ready to help! Please do not hesitate to reach out! In the mean time, pray each of your group members by name every day. Ask God to help them all become increasingly healthy as they are transformed by the gospel.