a fascinating few days on facilitating

Just got back from two days training in London on facilitating. (see http://www.karis.biz). A facilitator works with a group to help them learn and achieve. As our time together went on, more and more applications of the training became apparent from marriage counselling, through small group leading, to anchoring Sunday meetings. The trainer taught us facilitating through facilitating. At first that’s a bit of a mind bender and a departure from the more familiar teaching style of imparting information. The end result though was that rather than come away with tones of notes I have had a helpful learning  “experience”.

The main thing I took away from the two days was the experience of pace and engagement. I have been thinking about how we follow up Sunday preaches in our small group (which we do once a month or so). I am looking for ways to deepen our engagement with a particular biblical truth so that we are more profoundly changed by it. The challenge can be that we simply race through some ideas and do a “bible study” rather than encounter Jesus in a life changing way through the word.

The trainer started the first session in a manner that 1) got us into a reflective frame of mind and 2) concentrated our attention on the present. He did that by his body language, his voice and by asking a question about what our current feelings and experience of being here in the group as it started. We then moved onto contract with each other about what we needed from the group in order to learn and get the most out of our time together. This helped us gel, feel more at ease and prepare us to learn – except of course we were already doing that as we were leaning about facilitating!

Of the top of my head (I didn’t make many notes), in light of the experience, I will try to:

  • Slow down a bit in some of the group setting where I facilitate and leave more space or silence for people to think and contribute.
  • Try an engage people more reflectively “what are people thinking as we come to follow up the preach together?“.
  • Use phrases like “I notice that…” and “it’s as if we are …” to point things out to the group or suggest things without taking too strong a lead.
  • Use more nudges to draw people out more “could you say more about that…
  • Think more about the statement “self esteem is how you feel about how you feel
  • do more “preparation” as well as “planning” before a group session. They are not the same. Planning is “what you are going to do” whereas I think “Preparation” is more about you and  making sure you are in a good place.
  • Look forward to seeing the great people I met on the course again.
  • Think more about applications for small group and anchoring.
  • By some books on group facilitating like “groups, processes and practice”, “the little red book of groups”, “coaching for performance”, “practitioner research”, “facilitators hand book”, “group facilitation”.

We also did some great exercises with eye contact which underlined its importance in my mind. There is something in eye contact that stimulates the prophetic too. I have noticed some good prophets using touch in a similar way.

Anyway, I’m pretty tied now and I’m up early tomorrow for the early morning prayer meeting so I better get to bed. All in all it was a helpful stretching experience.

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