It’s that time of year again. Many churches, communities, and neighborhoods are starting fall sessions of women’s Bible study. Last Thursday’s post and this one give practical help for leading small group discussion. Feel free to share with your church, Bible study leaders, and women’s ministry leaders!

small group discussionWe’ve all been in one…a group discussion gone “off track.” Challenging personality types can easily derail a productive discussion. Here are four personality types and some practical tips which will help everyone enjoy the conversation.

  1. Discussion Hog

The Hog – who has something to say about almost everything – dominates the discussion! If leaders don’t harness the Hog, others in the group will talk less and the hog will talk more!

  • Use body language: Don’t make eye contact and turn toward others.
  • Give minimal response to their comments.
  • Give a general invitation to the group after they have spoken such as, “Let’s hear from someone who hasn’t spoken today.”
  • Talk to them privately when all else fails. Enlist their “help” in encouraging the quieter members of the group to participate.
  1. Introvert

The Introvert is quiet and rarely, if ever, participates in the discussion. Introverts may be naturally shy, lack confidence in their answers, or feel over-powered by stronger personalities in the group. The leader’s job is to draw them out. We need to encourage them, but we may also need to modify the group atmosphere. For example, you may have to harness a Hog!

  • Use body language: Make eye contact and turn towards them.
  • Don’t call on them specifically, unless they tried to speak and the hog talked over them.
  • Make use of silence. Sometimes these “introverts” will speak up given enough opportunity.
  • Encourage them to participate again by affirming them when they do comment on in private conversation.
  1. Emotionally Needy

The Emotional Needy sees no end to the painful situations of life. From divorce and illness to wayward teens and the loss of a loved one, our group members are sometimes emotionally consumed by life’s trials. These types of needs are usually better dealt with in a different kind of setting. However, occasionally raw emotions need immediate attention.

  • Follow the Holy Spirit in each case.
  • Offer to meet with them outside of class.
  • Stop and lead the group in prayer for the individual, if you feel led.
  • Offer to help them find the right venue for their need, if it’s an ongoing situation.
  1. Challenger

The Challenger questions the leader on one or more statements in front of the group. Sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong. Either way it’s important that biblical truth come to light and that the “challenge” doesn’t become an uncomfortable confrontation.

  • Ask them what Scripture passages teach their viewpoint.
  • Restate the Biblical evidence for your teaching.
  • Be humble, but firm on the truth: “Based on my study of this passage….. But I’m certainly not perfect. Let’s both do some more study on this…..”
  • Ask God to show you where you might be wrong!

Share your advice for dealing with one of these personality types! Or maybe you’ve had experience with another challenging personality.

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