Whether people stay in your group and grow as disciples depends a lot on the kind of relationships that take place in the group. The relational environment depends a lot on how you and your team lead. Take a look at some important factors that help or hinder the relational comfort and trust in your group.

Set the tone.

How you treat others will set a tone for your group. Be welcoming. Be friendly. Share food. Before the meeting starts, ask questions that draw people out: where are you from, what do you like to do, etc.  Initiate conversations. Introduce people to each other. Remember, it’s not about you. Put the focus on others and make them feel important and wanted.

[Related Topic: Set the Right Tone for a New Group]

Work through the awkwardness.

When the group is getting started, or when new people are joining, expect some awkwardness. Be patient with the group as people connect. Be prepared with some icebreakers. Spend extra time with the warm-up. Don’t hurry through the relational time to get to the lesson.

[Related Topic: Icebreakers]

Don’t be weird.

Don’t do things that make people feel uncomfortable, like asking people to share private things, or to touch each other, or to do some oddball group exercise. Don’t push the discussion questions. You might have less discussion as people warm-up to each other. Put yourself in the shoes of a newcomer or person unfamiliar with church ways.  Don’t assume that what you have become comfortable with won’t seem weird to them. If you’re not sure what is and what isn’t weird, ask your co-leader to give you feedback.

[Related Topic: How to Avoid Being a Weird Small Group]

Remember – a great relational environment allows people to discover and share God’s truth together. It gives people a safe place to embrace the changes God is working in their lives. Pay attention to the environment in your group.

[Related Topic: Create a Healthy Small Group Environment]

[Related Topic: How to Make Your Group Welcoming to Guests]

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. Describe a time when you experienced an awkward relational environment – in a small group or elsewhere. What happened?
  4. How does a group’s relational environment help or hinder people’s spiritual growth?
  5. What are some practical steps a group leader can take to create a good relational environment?
  6. What are some things a group leader might do that undermine the relational environment of the group?
  7. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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