Group Talks

An axiom of ministry: “Involvement breeds commitment.”

You have an experienced leader. She is a senior and graduating in May. You are starting to wonder who will replace her next year.

Perhaps your leader is really good at leading small groups and Bible studies. That can be rather intimidating for someone else looking to take over next year. They fear they could never do it the way that gifted leader did it.

Let me suggest a way to help others grow confidence in leading. I call this doing “group talks”. In principle, if a person has a voice in a meeting, then, typically, they have a role in the meeting’s success, at least the aspect they are involved with. Ownership breeds commitment. Here is how group talks work.

The gifted leader announces that next week, they are going to do a different kind of Bible study. They will introduce the topic and bring it to a conclusion. However, the body of the talk is assigned to different students. Some topics might include:

  • The Fruit of the Spirit.
  • The 8 I AM’s of the Gospel of John.
  • Biblical Growth: Grace, truth, and time.
  • 10 Commandments.
  • Hebrews 11: Marks of a Person of Faith.
  • Any number of Attributes of God.
  • Ministries of the Holy Spirit.
  • Groups of People that Jesus Addressed:  Centurion, Pharisees, Sadduccees, etc.

In preparation for the talks, the leader gives each person a definition, some verses or resources, if needed, and the amount of time they have to deliver their part. The student determines the big idea and some possible application. For example, if the study was on the Fruit of the Spirit, assign 9 different people one aspect of the Fruit (love, joy, peace, etc.). Give them one minute each to define it, give a Biblical example and suggest how it could be demonstrated within the movement. Connect with each student during the week to see how their preparation is going.

Some benefits:

  • Involvement breeds commitment. Naturally.
  • Visibility and responsibility builds ownership. Having a one or two minute speaking part raises their level of involvment.
  • The follow through required develops a commitment to the group. They are participants, not just listeners.
  • Those with latent gifts have an opportunity to exercise them, especially if they are reticent to speak up.
  • The leader gets to see who takes responsibility and follows through on assignments.
  • It spreads out leadership.
  • It also helps students understand the dynamics of body language, personal responsibility and group interaction.

You will find that there is a tension between having something sharp with experienced leaders up front on the one hand and giving others an opportunity for involvement, with a potential lack of control, on the other. But we should get accustomed with that kind of tension. Leadership is developed more by experience than by following the manuals.

Probably this is most difficult if you are a gifted speaker or teacher and you enjoy the speaking yourself. But a group talk two or three times a semester will help develop greater student ownership. Not every leader wants to be “up front”. Group talks is one way to identify and develop those who don’t tend toward the spotlight. Introverts and the more reserved can have good insight and commitment, but we can so easily overlook them.

The idea of doing “group talks” periodically helps build ownership among students attending a Bible Study or weekly meeting. It is a great way to watch how they handle a short term responsibility.

A final thought:
We hear that vision and leadership are more caught than taught. So just for the fun of it, I did a Google search on the phrase “more caught than taught” to find out who might have said it. It turns out a lot of people have. Here is one blog that said it rather succintly.


4 thoughts on “Group Talks

  1. Pingback: Distributing Ownership to Others « Gilbert’s Coaching Tips

  2. Kevin

    I totally agree with having students do group talks, we are currently doing that. I was wondering if you have the content of those talks you suggested. We have been doing essentials24 material but always looking for other good material.

    1. Gilbert

      Thanks, Kevin, for commenting.

      I don’t have content for them. But when I do this, I want to make it really simple for someone just starting out to do.

      For example, with the Fruit of the Spirit, I tell them they have one minute. Define that aspect of the fruit, give a Biblical example and offer an application of how it would look if it were part of our community. One minute isn’t much time. So they will want to be succinct.

      If I am doing something from a narrative passage like the I Am’s in the Gospel of John, I encourage them to use some of the Discovery Questions, such as
      What do you like best about this?
      What do you learn about God?
      What do you want to apply from this?
      What promise can you take with you?

      I am glad you use the group talks. I think it helps those who don’t normally speak up have a voice. Sometimes we are surprised by the insight they have. It spreads out the sense of ownership. More begin to have a stake in the success of the study.



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