Facilitators help group members think and talk at the same time. To be sure they must know the lesson for the day—as should the rest of the members—but their focus on Sabbath morning is not on delivering content. Their focus is on guiding the discussion process:
- Listen carefully to what group members say.
- Feed paraphrased comments back to the group as summary, reorganization, or integration of information that provides insights.
- Enable members to examine values, assumptions, and choices—their own and their community—in light of the content material.
Say, for example, that strong opinions are being bounced about on the role of women in the church. Before the discord separates friends and drives away visitors the class facilitator steps in:
“One moment, please. First, I would like to make sure we all understand ‘submission’ as used in this study. Let’s hear the views of some other people, and let’s be clear about what we mean. George, could you explain what you mean by ‘submission.’ ”
In this case the facilitator:
- Did not define the word.
- Did not give his opinion.
The social aspect of the process is the interaction of class members (fellowship). The cognitive process of the school work, the discussion, addresses the issues: the why, what, and how of the day’s subject for members’ own spiritual growth (faith) as well as for sharing principles with other people. This process involves members exchanging ideas on how to make the subject material practical for daily life and how to get the information to communities outside of the discussion group and beyond the church family.
Eighteen Guidelines for Facilitators
- Gather ideas.
- Focus on guiding the group and not on directing.
- Use questions to elicit information, opinions, and definitions.
- Visibly record progress and conclusions.
- Foster divergent thinking.
- Keep listening.
- Have group members relate specific examples to a general idea.
- Build on the ideas of others.
- Keep the group focused.
- Keep listening.
- Bar irrelevant details and redirect discussion as needed.
- Test for consensus.
- Manage the time.
- Set, communicate, and enforce ground rules.
- Honor all viewpoints.
- Manage differences.
- Promote harmony.
Faith Johnson Crumbly
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists