[Today's post is by Donald Smith. Donald is part of Care at North Point Ministries.—Ed.]
It can be challenging to create a comfortable environment for telling stories in group because some group members are eager to talk about themselves and others are reluctant. Some people over-share and others under-share. So how do you find that sweet spot where everyone can tell his or her story in a way that leads to deeper connection within the group?
Here are three practical tips you can use to lead your group members to better storytelling.
- Lead the story. As the group's leader, it's your responsibility to cast a vision for why telling stories is an important part of building community. It's also up to you to model good storytelling. The way you tell your story may differ depending on the type of group you're leading. A long-term Community Group will want to dive deeper into stories in order to create a solid relational foundation. Short-term groups (Starting Point, Care Group, Access Group) may want to focus on a few key facts so that people feel comfortable enough to begin to open up to one another.
- Name the story. If you want to make sure everyone's story is focused, name the story. Say, “Who wants to tell his or her Eight-Minute Story next week?” If it's called "Eight-Minute Story," group members will assume that, well, they need to give an eight-minute story. Just make sure the time allotted is appropriate to the type of group—eight minutes isn't enough time for the kind of in-depth storytelling that happens in Community Group.
- Celebrate the story. As group members tell their stories, look for ways to encourage and connect with them. Always thank them for telling their stories. Provide positive feedback. Take notes and really focus on what each member may need and how you can help them. It’s always a good idea to give group members a quick call during the week after they their stories to see how they think it went and to thank them for sharing.
What are some things you've done to help group members to tell their stories well?