Launching Your Group Well

In this video, Chris Allen discusses one key idea can have a huge impact on the crucial early weeks of any group—the importance of becoming safe and predictable.


Video Transcript

Most people begin a new group with questions. Questions like... Will I like these people?  Will they like me? At the heart of all these questions is Will I be able to trust these people? To experience authentic community in your group it is essential that you build trust. Stephen Covey says “Trust is the glue of life...  It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationship.”

Whether you realize it or not.  Underneath the surface, these questions are being asked as your group takes shape.  And you are shaping an answer to these questions as you lead your group. Let me illustrate this process on the Trust Scale.  On one side of the scale is suspicion. On the other side is trust. Groups typically start with more suspicious than trust. Bummer, I know.  This not bad. Their suspicion is simply their questions, like Can I trust these people? Most groups are the beginning of new relationships, and trust has yet to be built.  What’s important is that you are aware of what you can do to build trust in your group.

As a group leader, you can build trust by creating a safe and predictable environment.

Let’s look at Predictability first: a predictable environment is mostly about setting clear expectations early on.

You’ll want to answer questions like:

  • What is the goal of your group?

  • What will a typical group meeting look like?

  • What do you expect from each group member?

  • What is Spiritual Growth and how can we pursue it together?

We help you navigate these questions over the first 4 weeks of your group with the study we give you to start. You can gauge yourself with this question...Do the people in your group know what to expect before they arrive each week? If so, then your group is Predictable.

What about Developing Safety:

As you group begins to share personal stories, moments of vulnerability will emerge.  Often these moments will involve a life circumstance. (I lost my job, my mother is sick, or our marriage isn’t going well)

In these moments, the difficult circumstance floats to the center of the group and we are often tempted to focus on the problem.  

We usually respond to problems with advice...You should apply for this job.  Or you may want to consider seeing a marriage counselor.

We need to acknowledge that The problem and the person need 2 different things.  The problem may need advise. But the person needs safety. The person needs care.

To create a safe environment, we need to respond to the person before the problem.  How your group responds during these moments of vulnerability will heavily affect the trust scale

To create a safe environment, we suggest you establish some guidelines for how you intend to listen and respond to each other in your group.  Let me give you some examples: confidentiality, focused attention, unconditional acceptance, no fixing, advising, or rescuing

You can lay the foundations for trust to develop in your group by creating a safe and predictable environment.  The people in your group will know what to expect before they arrive each week. Predictable.  And they will feel freedom to be themselves. Safe. I hope you will focus on winning the trust scale which is the first step to creating a transformative authentic community.