Read an Excerpt
Talking the Walk
31 Sessions for New Small Groups
By Dave Bartlett Bill Muir
Copyright © 2000
All right reserved.
Chapter One meeting 1
getting to KNOW YOU
The purpose of this meeting is to give you and your group members a chance to get acquainted.
In the beginning 3 min.
Before the meeting begins, make a copy of the sign on page 20.
You'll need to do two things in the first few minutes of this first meeting. You'll need to make your kids feel welcome and comfortable, and then you'll need to give them an idea of what's in store for them.
Making your group members feel welcome probably will require little more than greeting them warmly at the door and introducing them to others who've already arrived. Having snacks and drinks available helps, too.
Making them feel comfortable, on the other hand, will take some physical maneuvering. The best seating arrangement for a small group is a circle. Ask your kids to arrange their chairs-or themselves, if you've got a group of floor sitters-in a circle. That way, all of your group members will have face-to-face contact with each other.
To give your kids an idea of what's in store for them in this small group setting, you may want to go over a few guidelines for maximum group effectiveness. You can show the sign as you're talking or pull it out when you're finished and post it where everyone can see it and you can refer to it whenever necessary. You might explain the guidelines this way-
This small group is a place where we can get to know each other and, at the same time, learn some important things about ourselves. To make the most of our time together, we'll need to keep three things in mind:
First, be honest or be quiet. In this group, you'll never have to answer a question that you don't want to answer. If you don't feel like responding to something, just say, "I pass." If you do feel like responding, though, make sure your answers are completely honest. It may be difficult at first, but with a little practice we'll all get the hang of it.
Second, what's said here stays here. Total confidentiality is a must. Everything we share during our time together is private. None of us is allowed to talk about it outside of this group. That way we can all feel comfortable about talking honestly and openly together.
Third, commitments must be kept. If we decide that this small group is something we're interested in, we must make it a priority in our lives.
Share and share alike 15 min.
Ask your group members to choose three things they're either wearing or carrying that reveal something about them. Potential items might include a driver's license, a necklace, athletic shoes, or a school I.D. If you've got kids who travel lightly and don't have three such items on them, let them point out physical characteristics that reveal something about them. (For example, some kids may point to their red hair to explain their fiery tempers. Others may display telltale scars.)
As the leader of the group, it's your responsibility to blaze a trail for your group members. That's why you'll need to be prepared to share three items that reveal something about you. You may want to use this opportunity to model openness and vulnerability to your kids. Find an item that reveals something embarrassing or unflattering about yourself. You'll discover that the ability to laugh at yourself will go a long way toward connecting with your group members.
After you've finished sharing, ask for a volunteer to go next. When that person is finished, continue until everyone has had a turn.
Buddy up 10 min.
After the group sharing activity, give your kids a chance to become better acquainted on a personal level. Assign everyone in the room-including yourself-a partner. Your best bet is to pair up people who don't know each other well. Encourage each pair to separate itself from the rest of the group as much as possible. Explain the activity this way-
In your pairs, one of you will be the designated questioner and one will be the designated answerer. It doesn't matter which of you chooses which role, because you'll be switching in a few minutes anyway. Those of you who have experience as journalists should do well as questioners. Those of you who have experience as celebrities should do well as answerers.
Think of this activity as an interview. The questioners will have three minutes to find out as much as possible about the answerer. As far as the questions are concerned, you're on your own. Ask whatever you'd like to know about your partner. Of course, if you get too personal, your partner can always say, "No comment."
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
If you were principal of your school for a day, what would you change and why?
When you get older, do you think you'll stay in this area or head for some place far, far away?
If you had a pocketful of money and absolutely no responsibilities, where would you go and what would you do?
After three minutes, reassemble the group. Ask your designated questioners to share two or three important things they learned about their partners. If you were the designated partner in your group, take the lead in sharing to give your group an idea of what you're looking for.
After everyone has had a chance to share, split up into the same pairs again and have the partners switch roles. Those who were asking the questions before will now be answering them. After three minutes, bring the group back together and give the new questioners a chance to share what they learned about their partners.
Finish the-10 min.
Use the following statement-or something like it-to make the transition to your next get-acquainted activity.
We've got such interesting people in this group! Let's find out some more stuff about each other. I'm going to read the beginning of a sentence, and I want you to finish it. These aren't right or wrong statements, so you don't have to worry about making a mistake. We're just looking for your honest response.
Read each of the following statements one at a time. After you read the first statement, finish it with your own personal answer. Then ask your kids to do the same thing. After everyone has completed the first one, move on to the second. Continue until you and all of your kids have responded to all five statements.
1. The reason I'm here right now is-
2. One fear I had in coming here is-
3. One thing I'm really excited about in my life right now is-
4. One thing about me you probably don't know is-
5. One area of my life in which I'm proud of myself is-
So many questions, so little time 10 min
You'll find Question Time on pages 21-23. Before the meeting starts, make a copy of the sheet and cut apart the questions. For this activity, place the question slips upside down in a pile in the middle of the group. To start things off, you should draw a slip and answer the question. After you've finished answering, ask the person on your right to draw a question and answer it. Continue around the circle until everyone has had a chance to draw one or more questions.
Remind your group members that they may decline to answer any question they're uncomfortable with. If people choose not to answer the first question they drew, they should be allowed to draw a second slip. If they choose not to answer that question either, they may forfeit their turn.
You'll use these questions again, so don't throw them away.
Says you 5 min
The role of a small group leader carries with it a fair share of opportunities and responsibilities. For example, you'll have the opportunity to flesh out the Christian life for your kids. At the same time, however, you'll have the responsibility of presenting an accurate, warts-and-all view of what it means to follow Christ.
As the small group leader, you'll also have the opportunity to share at least one significant idea with your kids each week. For this first meeting, you might consider sharing some of the following thoughts.
I'm really glad you took time from your busy schedules to check out our small group. I hope that we can continue to meet and get to know each other better and better. I think I can learn a lot from you, and I hope you can learn at least a little from me. I'd love for us to be able to talk honestly and openly about many different topics.
One of the most important things you should know about me is that I'm a committed Christian. At some point in our friendship, I'd like to discuss your thoughts about the Christian faith. I'll be honest about what I believe, and I hope you'll do the same. While we're talking about the Christian faith, let me read you a couple of Bible verses I've been thinking about lately.
If some of your group members are packing Bibles, ask one of them to read 2 Corinthians 5:17-19. If not, read it yourself. Then continue with something like this-
This passage is a summary of how I see my life. I think of myself as an agent of Christ. One of the most important parts of my life is sharing the message of Christ. I don't want to push it on anyone or shove it down someone's throat, but I do want people to know it's important to me.
As you get to know me, you may notice that a lot of my thinking is influenced by my faith. I believe that Jesus is a real, living person; therefore, I'm going to do everything I can to be an ambassador for him.
Did you hear that? 10 min
So far, you've led your group members through several sharing exercises. As you wrap up the session, try a listening activity. After all, you want your kids to believe that the thoughts, feelings, and experiences they share in your meetings are important to the rest of the group.
To do this, lead your kids in a listening check. Choose one person from the group to focus on at a time. You and your group members should then take turns recalling information you learned about the person or memorable things that person said during the meeting. Ideally, everyone in the group should contribute at least one recollection to the activity. If that doesn't happen, though, don't worry about it. (After all, this is your first meeting. In time your group members will get the hang of active listening.)
Again, you'll probably need to take the lead in this exercise. Choose one person from the group and say something like this-
Carlos, the one comment of yours that stands out in my memory is your great description of what a true friend is.
Make sure you comment on a specific idea that the person shared. After you start the ball rolling, encourage your group members to follow suit, commenting on the verbal contributions they remember the person making to the meeting. After all or most of your kids have shared, choose another person in the group to focus on. Continue until everyone has had a turn in the spotlight.
Where do we go from here? 2 min
Now that you've reached the end of your first meeting, it's time to find out if your kids are interested in meeting again. After all, this first meeting was probably an experiment for some of them, especially if you recruited them to attend. You might approach the situation this way-
I've enjoyed this session, and I'd be interested in meeting again with anyone who wants to. I should warn you, though, that if you want to be a part of this group, it's going to require a commitment on your part. Our meeting times are going to have to become a priority in your life. We can make a difference in each other's lives - and in the community around us - but only if we're serious about meeting together regularly. If you're not interested in that kind of a commitment, just say so. It's okay, and no one will hassle you about it.
If your kids decide to continue meeting together, set up the time and place of your next meeting.
Cut the questions into strips. Use the questions as directed in Meetings 1, 2, and 5 activities.
Who is your favorite teacher and why?
Name something that easily embarrasses you.
Give someone an honest piece of advice.
When do you pray the hardest?
Say something about a topic you're uncomfortable with.
Name one area in which you need to grow up.
Name something you've learned about yourself recently.
What's the most important thing about being a Christian?
Name and describe one of your personal heroes.
What hurts you?
Who in this group would you be willing to depend on and why?
Name one area in which you want to be like your parents.
Name one activity or area in which you would like to be better than everyone else.
Say something about your partying habits.
Say something about Florida (or choose another state).
Say something about traveling.
Say something about this small group.
Describe a good friend.
Tell us about your favorite movie of all time.
What makes you laugh out loud?
How do you feel about writing letters?
In what way do you wish people your age would change?
Why are friends important to you?
What do you like most about your parents?
What are most of your arguments with your parents about?
Name one thing you wish your parents would let you do.
Finish this sentence: Home should be a place that-
What kind of people do you like most?
What kind of people are most difficult for you to get along with?
In what ways are your friends like you?
How do you think your parents would describe you?
If you had one wish, what would it be?
What would you like the courage to do?
What is one thing that frightens you?
What do you feel uncomfortable talking about?
What one thing do you think you need the most?
What do you think about when you're all alone?
What's the thing you worry about most?
What do you do when you're sad?
When you're happy, how can people tell?
What is your weakest point?
What do you love to do?
What are you feeling right now?
When are you the happiest?
If you could ask God one question, what would it be?
What's the one thing you like best about yourself?
Finish the sentence: To me, Jesus Christ is-
What do you want to be doing in 10 years?
How would you describe success?
How do you feel when someone calls you names?
Describe the ideal mother.
Who has helped you the most in your life?
Say something about ghosts.
Are you more of a leader or a follower? Why?
What are some of the rules of your house?
What is your definition of sin?
When do you feel the most alone?
Talk about one of your bad habits.
How well do your parents understand you?
Excerpted from Talking the Walk by Dave Bartlett Bill Muir Copyright © 2000 by Youth Specialties. Excerpted by permission.
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