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10 Ways to Stifle Discussion in Your Small Group

As you lead your small group, use these 10 simple tips for suppressing sharing from members:

1. Infuse words like regeneration, justificationandeschatology into the discussion as much as possible.

2. Interject names such as Polycarp, Bonhoeffer and, yes, even Warren and Lucado.

3. Be serious all the time. Since you are studying God’s Holy Word, there is no time for fun or frivolity! 

4. Don’t allow people to share their feelings. Focus on facts. Feelings have no place in Bible study. 

5. Do most of the talking. Study up and share everything you learned about your topic. This is what it means to teach.

6. If no one responds to one of your questions within five seconds, answer it yourself and move on to the next question. 

7. When participants answer with a wrong response (because there is always one correct response), be sure to shame, correct, and dismiss them. (Corollary: Remember that as the leader you are always right.)

8. Ask 10 or more discussion questions (the more the better). To do so, you must set a limit of one brief (20 seconds or less) response per question. 

9. Focus your eyes on your Bible and study guide. Read questions and commentary as much as possible. After asking a question, look down at your books to see what the next question is. 

10. Be in complete control of the discussion. Don’t allow any conversation that is not part of your own meeting agenda. You must set stringent boundaries with group members. 

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Michael C. Mack founded SmallGroups.com in 1995 and served as a small-groups minister for more than 20 years in several churches. He is a writer, editor, trainer, and consultant in the areas of small groups, leadership, and discipleship. He is the author of more than 25 books and small group studies, including his latest, World's Greatest Small Group (pub. January, 2017). He regularly blogs on his ministry website at SmallGroupLeadership.com. His family is a small group that includes his wife Heidi, their four children, and their dog, Lainey. Mike is also an avid mountain biker.