At some point, a person in your group will give an answer that’s not quite right. Their answer could be wrong for two of the following reasons: 1) they have misunderstood the question and have given an answer that is way off track. Or, 2) they say something contrary to biblical doctrine in their answer. When this happens try the following:
Don’t embarrass anyone
No one likes to be wrong. And chances are that people in your group aren’t trying to be heretics. However you respond to their answer, try and affirm them and shield them from embarrassment. One helpful tactic is to blame the wording of the question or the way that you set-up the question. Most of the time, it is probably true that the question could have been clearer.
You don’t always have to correct someone
Many times the rest of the group will know that the person just didn’t understand the question. You can simply ask if anyone else would like to answer, and often the conversation will pick back up in the right direction.
Also, you don’t have to correct every little theological error. If someone refers to the guy who led Israel out of Egypt as Abraham, you don’t have to halt everything to correct them. Just keep the conversation moving. You may be able to subtly correct their assertion at some point during the conversation.
Kindly correct really bad errors
If someone denies the deity of Jesus, we don’t want to skip over that. Certain subjects are too important to allow confusion in the group. When you have to correct a theological error, try and do so without blaming the person who made the wrong point. You can say something like, “I understand why you would say that, but actually the Bible says…”
Be willing to discuss further outside of the group
When people spout bad theology in a small group, this is an important clue that you or your co-leader need to follow up with them. Don’t just let them keep believing the wrong thing. Share with them a discussion guide, post, or video from pursueGOD.org that will point them to the truth.
We want to keep people involved and engaged in group life so they can discover and process God’s truth for themselves. So don’t handle bad answers in a way that would shut people down and make them not want to return.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- Why is it important to avoid embarrassing someone over something they say in the group discussion?
- Have you observed a group leader handle someone’s faulty or awkward answer gracefully? What happened?
- When someone makes an erroneous statement, how do you decide whether to directly correct it or to skirt around it?
- What are the dangers of being too direct? What are the dangers of not being direct enough?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.