IMPROVISE – this is another quality that is quite unique. You can often have a good teacher/speaker that can be pretty lousy as at leading a discussion in a small group. The style of communicating in a small group requires a certain ability to improvise.
Sometimes you need to change/adjust the plan that you have as you come together as a group. You suddenly realise that someone’s relative has just been taken to hospital or someone failed their exam – and the subject matter of the evening might not be appropriate.
A discerning leader would use (not necessarily as a rule of thumb, every time) the situation to direct the discussion to something that will not just inform the mind but also encourage the heart. To fail to do so would mean that though you might have stuck to your initial plan – people in the group just did not connect. Their minds were on something else.
Sometimes people throw a ‘curved ball’ at you by bringing an issue that wasn’t part of initial plan. An improviser would use their discernment to assess whether this could actually be a rabbit trail worth following.
Sometimes some of the most significant conversations in a small group are unscripted. A word of caution – permanent distractions or distractors can be very nauseating – therefore the great need for discernment.
In a Church small group setting – you need to use your discernment on the particular meeting on what you focus. Though traditionally church small groups have the Welcome, Worship, Word, Work and whatever ‘W’ you can use for socialising and praying – on a given night you might take a longer time to focus on one of the above rather than sticking to a strict percentage of each.
If there is ONE thing that I want people to take away from this discussion – what would it be? (Ask yourself that before the meeting).
Are people tired or looking switched on? (As you gather together)
Has anyone experienced anything recently that could affect us all? (As you gather together)
Is this diversion brought on by the Holy Spirit? (during the discussion, in a Church small group setting)