The Challenge of Challenging People

Small groups with severely wounded people can be a great success if you stick to some trusted principles.

For most people, leading a group with one or two challenging people is more than they bargained for. But it can be done. In fact, as you gain skills and become more comfortable dealing with various types of challenging people, you might consider leading a group of people who don't seem to fit anywhere else. I first tried this because of my personal ministry to women who have been profoundly abused.

Whether we talk about it openly or not, many people in this country—even Christians—have suffered abuse, neglect, or other challenges while growing up. Often, these people find it difficult to fit in with a small group. They lack both the interpersonal and group skills necessary for success. Yet, who more than these wounded ones can benefit from the ministry of a small group? Just remember, a group can either heal or harm—depending on the skill and sensitivity of the leader.

As I've led groups of severely wounded women, I've learned several keys about what works and what doesn't.

Be sure you have a co-leader.

While I always prefer to have a co-leader, with a group of challenging people, it's essential. You'll need the expertise of another skilled person, and it's important to have someone who can report truth to church leadership or others, should that ever be necessary.

Be clear and open when inviting participants.

Many wounded people already have had problems being part of a group, whether Christian or secular. They already feel ostracized. So I'm pretty open when I choose to lead a group of challenging people. I let them know that, in addition to Bible study, we'll be developing good group skills. Most people are eager for this.

Keep it small.

A skilled ...

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