Become a Leader

Consider Leading a Small Group

Leading a group is an excellent way to choose joy. Giving back to others helps us tap into our own joy.

The main job of a leader is simple – to create a safe and comfortable environment for people to open up and share their successes and challenges with applying a spiritual task to their life.

The leader is not a preacher or a teacher. We learn by observing ourselves working the task during the week and by listening to the sharing of how other people worked the task. Being a good listener is a valuable skill to have as a leader and group member.

To create this safe and comfortable environment where people learn from each other, we have created a group outline and a set of guidelines to allow for optimal listening and sharing.

Group Outline:

  1. Check in: Who are you? How are you? (Each participant says their name and a couple minutes about how their day or week went)
    • Read group guidelines after check in at the first session (or each time) (see below)
  1. Meditation or prayer (a time of quiet music, read a short meditation, or offer a prayer)
  1. Share whatever brief “gem of wisdom” you thought of, read, or been told since last session (optional)
  1. Report on your experience of working the assigned task
  1. Introduce a new task and discuss*
  1. Closing thoughts from each participant (a very important feature to promote inclusiveness!)
  1. Closing prayer (optional). Each group may choose its own method of closure
  1. Some groups have social time afterwards where refreshments can be served (optional)

*The leader can purchase a deck of cards in our online store In addition, each task has an essay that can be read before, during, or after group for further insights into how to apply the task.

Bonus: A great way to encourage group participation is to have group members take turns picking a task from the deck and going around the room and each reading a paragraph of the essay.

The group guidelines that work best in the groups we have led are as follows:

  1. We do not give advice.
  2. We do not interrupt.
  3. We do not engage in cross talk.
  4. We share; we do not preach.
  5. We have the option to pass.
  6. We understand that there are no failures, only opportunities.
  7. We do not identify individuals when sharing our experiences.
  8. We keep confidential all experiences shared within the group.
  9. We start and end meetings promptly
  10. We do not smoke, eat or drink during meetings. *water is accepted

OR the simplified version:

  1. We do not interrupt
  2. We do not give advice
  3. We have the option to pass
  4. We respect confidentiality
  5. We do not engage in cross talk

*The leader can choose which version to use

The leader encourages all participants to share freely, but it is fine if participants are not ready to share. Participants can attend the first few groups to listen and learn from the experiences of others until they feel comfortable sharing.

Usually, the biggest issue is not that people do not share, it is that they do not know when to stop. One thing that has worked is the leader simply saying,

“Thank you ________ (participant). In the interest of time, we need to move on.”

If the group goes off topic or starts cross talking or advice giving, then we found saying “we digress” and then getting back to the topic works well.

Additional thoughts:

Do you need to have only one leader?

No, depending on the dynamics of the group you can share leadership, trading off leadership each week and following the same outline and guidelines.

How do I create a group?

Creating a group is a simple as getting 3 or 4 friends together and setting up a weekly time to meet up. Encourage your friends to bring friends and your group will grow. You can also see if your church, school, workplace or other community group you attend would be willing to announce your group and allow for a sign-up sheet to be posted. Be creative and see who is wanting to connect and grow spiritually!

Key Functions of a Small Group Leader

1) Keep the discussion within certain limits

2) Listen carefully to what is said and listen with mind and heart

3) Observe what is going on in the group

4) Protect the group from domination by self or by others

5) Pay attention to the needs and interest of all participants

6) Encourage those who are reticent

7) Allow all opinions to be heard

8) Make it easy and comfortable to speak

9) Allow questions and responsibility to be handled by the group, not just by the leader.

10) Encourage a discussion that focuses on the here and now, and on the people in the group now

11) Provide an example of openness and honesty in communication

12) Create an atmosphere of trust and caring.