For Crying Out Loud

You are leading your Bible study one evening when a member suddenly starts crying—what do you do?

You are leading your Bible study one evening when a member suddenly starts crying, apparently for no reason. what do you do?

First, turn your attention from your set agenda and focus on the needs of the member who is crying. It is very important to recognize the person's feelings. To ignore the crying in favor of "getting through the Bible study" or to try to dismiss it quickly tells this person who is hurting that his feelings are not important. Since you are striving for intimacy, transparency, trust, and caring in a small group, you must let the group know it is OK to sometimes share deep emotional or spiritual troubles. However, if a member seems to cry often or is constantly seeking to be the center of other's attention, you may need to handle this situation differently. You cannot allow one person's problems to constantly dominate the group. Do not allow this one member to drain the energy from the rest of the group. You may need to speak to the group member in person to discuss the situation. You might need to consult with a staff minister or the small group overseer for guidance first.

If this is a one-time occurrence, however, handle it with sensitivity and caring. You might say, "We can see you're feeling something painful right now, Sandy. would you like to share anything briefly with the group or would you rather keep it to yourself? Either way, we'll support you, pray for you, be here for you throughout whatever you're going through." Then leave it to Sandy. If Sandy decides to keep the struggles or pain inside, take time to pray, either aloud or silently, and then go on with the meeting. You may want to give Sandy permission to step into another room for a few minutes if needed. Perhaps an apprentice leader or ...

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