Which is best, gender exclusive groups or coed? The answer is both.
There is obvious value in joining males and females in a small group. One gender tends to share insights from the Word that the other would easily miss. Married couples get to spend needed time together. Singles are given the opportunity to develop healthy friendships with the opposite sex. Understanding of the other gender is gained. Fellowship is fostered.
Yet, isolating by gender is also beneficial. Men are very reluctant to open up beyond a certain point when women are in the same room and vice versa. In "men only" or "ladies only" groups, sharing and accountability will go deeper. Issues that are inappropriate in mixed company are open for discussion.
So what do you do to combine the strengths of coed groups with the advantages of gender-focused meetings? Why not try a small group sandwich?
Let me explain. It is possible to gain the profits of both by using the idea of sandwiching coed times with gender exclusive times.
For example, Tim and Rebecca's group changes the format each week. On week one, only the men gather on Wednesday night and the women watch the kids. The next week the men and women are together and they hire a babysitter. The third week it's ladies only night, as the men watch the kids. The fourth week the group is coed again.
They found that spiritual ground was covered in the "men's only" and "ladies only" nights that wouldn't have happened otherwise. The relationships that deepened during the gender exclusive nights positively seasoned the coed nights. A fringe benefit was the separate sex times fostered a breeding ground for the development of apprentices as well as the nurturing of relationships outside the group.
Another way to ...