What Happens Best in Same Gender Groups

When our group divided by gender, we were able to delve deeper into the Word—and into each other's lives.

I took a risk! "The 20 Somethings" inquired about having intergenerational small group leaders. In other words, they wanted some of us older people to be willing to lead their groups. As Minister of Small Groups at this large church in Boston, I decided I certainly would take the challenge. On sign-up night I had 16 young men/women eager to dive into the material I had provided. It was a large group and I was convinced that some would drop out. No one seemed to know each other, and I, in a few fleeting moments, asked myself why I had offered to take on this task! No one dropped out. I began leading them through the stages of designing a covenant and eventually assisted them through the healthy stages of growth. We became significant spiritual friends quite quickly. At the end of the year, still 17 strong, we evaluated our group experience and decided to continue on for just one more year.

Being so large was a weakness, but I had a hard time convincing anyone to leave. In September, we started back in full force. Even though we remained at 17 people, there was constant hesitation and, quite frankly, refusal to divide into smaller groups for discussion and prayer. They just wanted to be together! This weakened the spiritual growth and accountability due to its size and mixed gender. It frustrated me. At the end of the term, I began to remind them that we would be ending our time together. Tears started to flow from a few women. The young men were silent.

Saying "no" has been hard for me! I almost gave in, but made a wiser decision. After challenging the young men and a few of the young women to form new gender groups, I agreed to lead the remaining nine young women one more year. I agreed with full intention that there would ...

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