“Nobody talks in my group. How can I encourage conversation?” If you’ve ever led a Bible study group, you’ve probably asked the same question. Especially with young adults, conversation is important. And some of the best learning moments can come from discussions and stories.
Everybody has a story–the experiences that brought them to your Bible study group. And in that story, there’s joy, pain, and excitement. Just about everyone has at least one great experience they want to tell someone else about. Maybe it’s a bad date, a great vacation, a favorite birthday, or a funny story from the office. So why not give people a chance to tell their stories in your Bible study group?
Doing so will help your group know what makes each other tick and will foster a deepening sense of community. And telling stories is a great way to help people feel more comfortable sharing in a group setting. There are a number of ways you might facilitate this, but here are two options:
1. SET ASIDE SPECIFIC TIME FOR STORYTELLING
If you anticipate that your group is going to be quiet and therefore not really into “the whole discussion thing,” you might set aside the first 15 minutes of every gathering for a group member to tell his or her story. If you decide to do this, it’s best to stay firm on the 15 minutes, or otherwise you won’t have time for Bible study.
You might also give a basic breakdown of how the stories should flow by providing a list of questions to answer. And consider starting off the storytelling. Remember, your group is probably going to follow your lead, so the level of transparency you exhibit is likely to be replicated.
2. WEAVE THE STORIES INTO THE DISCUSSION
If you sense that your group is having trouble discussing questions, then change the form of the question to reflect a more story-oriented approach. For example, you might be talking about Jesus’ teachings on money. So why not throw in a question that leads to a piece of someone’s story? Maybe something like, “At what time in your life were you the most financially burdened?” And then continue to probe the answerer to share more about that time in his or her life. That brief amount of sharing will likely open up more doors in the future for greater discussion.
Explore the Bible: Young Adults is specifically designed to foster healthy group conversation with questions that are reflective and discussion-driven. Instead of reading the text and answering questions about what the text says, a more transformational approach is found in asking questions that help group members understand how to obey the text in their own life’s context. A good balance is necessary for a strong Bible study group time.
Adapted from Context: Engaging the Young Adults of Your Community from Threads by Lifeway