Several years ago I found myself in a small group of women that met on Saturday mornings. These were women I had known for a while; they were friends of mine. The group had a simple format—we would read a few verses from the Bible, read a meditation, and then ask the same three questions every week.
I had been a part of many small groups before, and I was expecting all of the usual good stuff—sharing, friendship, fun, and so on. But something unusual was going on with this group. It was different. I felt like I was going to be challenged. I felt like I was going to change. This made me a little nervous, but very excited, and I looked forward to the next meeting.
When Saturday rolled around again, I found myself eagerly anticipating what would be shared and discovered in the group. I walked away from that meeting with new insights about my spiritual growth, but again there was something different. Something more. I began to believe that this group would be the catalyst for some real growth and life change for me.
By this time I was more than curious, and I thought hard about what that difference could be. Was it that these women were special? Was it that they were already friends of mine? No, I had been in groups with lots of very special people, and I had been in groups with lots of very good friends.
By the end of the third group meeting, I was starting to get a handle on the answer. There was something different, after all—something that I now believe is key to making small groups work.
The Art of Listening
As one of the women began to share something that had happened in her week, I looked around and noticed that they other women were all listening—really listening. They were more focused and listened ...