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Facilitated learning: when groups come alive

by David Goodman, CEO, Entrust

People in a circle holding out tools

In 1970, I attended an event led by Lyman Coleman, a pioneer in small group training. He didn’t waste time explaining the dynamics of small groups. Instead, he let us experience them. Sub-dividing the 50 participants into groups of six or eight, he led us through participative learning exercises. I found myself totally engaged, fascinated by how the scriptures came alive as I witnessed God’s Spirit speaking to me through others.

Never again would I be satisfied to lecture in a small group. I sought creative curriculum for the groups I led. I saw adults come alive when engaged in discovery learning. I spent less time teaching and more time planning learning activities that led the group toward transformation.

In 2010, as Entrust’s new president, I was required to take its course on facilitating. After decades of leading small groups, I wasn’t so sure it would be worth my time.

To my surprise, I not only learned a lot, I found missing pieces in my small group leadership. I learned the skills of managing group interaction without domineering, of constructing a lesson plan for scripture, books or visual media, of dealing with dominant and quiet participants. Most of all, I learned how to craft the sort of question that helps a group come alive and allows God’s Spirit to move in a life-changing manner. There is no greater privilege than to see God use you in this way.

“Yes, churches should continue preaching and teaching classes.

But nothing produces transformation more efficiently than small groups skillfully executed.”

David Goodman, CEO, Entrust

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