In Monday's post, we talked about the importance of sharing tasks in your group in order to promote participation. Leading prayer time is one of the most important tasks you can share, but it's also one of the most delicate. Some group members may be comfortable taking the lead. Others may not even be comfortable praying out loud.
So, how do you encourage group members to lead prayer time without pushing them too far out of their comfort zones?
This answer may seem obvious, but I'll throw it out there anyway: Ask.
Sounds simple, right? But asking doesn't necessarily mean waiting until prayer time rolls around and then inquiring whether anyone in the group wants to take the reins. You can do it that way, but it probably won't yield the best results . . . especially in the early stages when group members are still getting to know one another.
If your goal is to promote participation, asking for volunteers isn't the best approach. Instead, think about those in your group who might be willing and able to lead prayer time. A few days before the group meeting, reach out to one of them with an email or a phone call to ask if he or she would lead. The one-on-one contact conveys your respect. It's a direct invitation for that person to engage at a deeper level in the life of the group. Having the conversation ahead of time also allows you to answer questions and provide coaching if necessary.
On the night of your group meeting, you'll be able to make a smooth transition into prayer time, led by your group member. This will set the stage for you to be able to reach out privately to other group members in order to share responsibility for prayer time and other tasks. It's a strategic approach that will help you to cast vision for a group experience in which all of the members share responsibility for building community.
What approaches have you taken to encourage your group members to step up and lead during prayer time?