When I go to a restaurant and I have to park in a public parking garage, many times the attendant will hand me a ticket as I’m driving into the garage and tell me that the waitress will “validate” the ticket. That is, they will stamp the ticket, confirming I’m telling the truth, that I parked my car in the garage. Once the ticket is “validated” I can rest knowing the parking lot attendant will believe my story.

Validation is important in parking garages but is essential in small group life. Many times group members will reveal a part of their story never before verbalized. At that point the group member is anticipating the group will acknowledge her/his life situation, the pain  the experience is causing them, that the enemy is using these past experiences to hold she/he captive, and that the group believes the revelation to be true.

But without acknowledging/validating the story the individual may never move forward and someday be free of that baggage. All of us must remember that validating the story is the first step, the step that must take place before asking the group member to go to work on the pain and baggage.

A few phrases to consider when validating:


  • “Thanks for telling us about this. We believe in you and want to journey with you.”
  • “I didn’t know that about you. We are honored that you told us even more about your past experiences.”
  • “I believe you and I am here to help you any way I can.”
  • “Thanks for courageously telling us the truth.”

What are some other phrases we might use to validate another small group member?  

Previous articleConducting a Responsible Ministry Job Review
Next articleAuthentic Small Groups and Gran Torino
Rick Howerton
Rick has one passion… To see “a biblical small group within walking distance of every person on the planet making disciples that make disciples.” He is presently pursuing this passion as the Small Group and Discipleship Specialist at LifeWay Church Resources. Rick has authored or co-authored multiple books, studies, and leader training resources including A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic, Destination Community: Small Group Ministry Manual, The Gospel and the Truth: Living the Message of Jesus, Small Group Life Ministry Manual: A New Approach to Small Groups, Redeeming the Tears: a Journey Through Grief and Loss, Small Group Life: Kingdom, Small Group Kickoff Retreat: Experiential Training for Small Group Leaders, and Great Beginnings: Your First Small Group Study, Disciples Path: A Practical Guide to Disciple Making. Rick’s varied ministry experiences as an collegiate minister, small group pastor, teaching pastor, elder, full-time trainer and church consultant, as well as having been a successful church planter gives him a perspective of church life that is all-encompassing and multi-dimensional. Rick is a highly sought after communicator and trainer.