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Posted by on Mar 3, 2011 in Blog |

Looking to Take Your Group Deeper? Use Sub-Groups


If you’re aiming to keep you group a nice, comfy place where people can just have a nice chat and go home unchanged…don’t read this article. But if you really want to take advantage of the small group setting and promote real life-on-life ministry, take these words seriously.

One of the most effective strategies for pushing beneath the surface and encouraging group qualities such as trust, intimacy, and accountability is sub-grouping. Sub-grouping is simply intentionally dividing your group into smaller groups of 3-4 for part of a group gathering.

Why is it so effective (and, I would argue, necessary)? There are several reasons. One is what I would call the “Law of the Dominant Group Members”. Listen to how Mark Howell describes it:

In any group the most dominant personalities do 80 to 90% of the talking. I like to say that the 5 most dominant personalities do 90% of the talking. It’s just a fact of group life. If you’ve got a group of 8, the 5 most dominant personalities do 90% of the talking. If you’ve got a group of 12, the 5 most dominant personalities do 90% of the talking. If you’ve got a group of 16…

So how do you do it? You just do it! Introduce it to your group without any fanfare and without permission-seeking. Simply plan a segment of your group time to divide up for 15 minutes. One of the easiest and most effective strategies is to use same-gender subgroups for prayer time. It allows group members to share prayer concerns at a level they might not be comfortable with in a mixed-gender environment. Another option would be to set aside two or three discussion questions for subgroups and then have them return to share their group’s responses. In either case, be sure you tap a couple of subgroup facilitators beforehand to guide the discussion or prayer.

Subgrouping is a simple, yet effective way to move your group deeper. For more on the subject, read Mark Howell’s article.