Misery-proof Your Group

No one wants to be miserable. Most of us join and stay in small groups because of our attraction to the members and the group goals. The “glue” that holds any group together is referred to as cohesiveness.

In cohesive groups members enjoy spending time together. Members understand and are committed to completing various tasks. Members are motivated to accomplish the group’s goals.

Cohesiveness involves commitment, a certain like-mindedness, loyalty, and a willingness to sacrifice for the group. The quality of a group’s performance is related to the degree to which the group is cohesive.

Let’s Get Experiential!

Why not implement this new learning by taking a minute right now to evaluate the cohesiveness of your Sabbath School. 

In your opinion:

  1. Are Sabbath School members unified in their commitment to the four goals of Sabbath School? 
  2. Are members committed to supporting one another at a personal level? 
  3. Do members speak favorably about the group and the other members? 
  4. Or would you say that your Sabbath School is charged with power struggles and conflict? 

Let’s track your opinions in the following areas:

  1. Does the communication climate encourage openness, inclusiveness, and creativity? Can people say what they think and feel without being personally attacked? That doesn’t imply that members will always agree or that everyone will get his or her own way; however, differences are acknowledged and final decisions are made in ways that do not hurt or embarrass anyone. 
  2. Are members friendly? Visitors can sense your warmth, and visitors can sense the coldness. Cohesive groups tend to be more positive and friendly. Every member is perceived to be part of the whole. All groups must balance the need to listen to disagreement and to express differences, but in a cohesive group members’ concern for one another precludes put-downs, gossip, and other condemning behaviors. Members freely communicate their pride in the group and its accomplishments. When a group is cohesive, members feel safe from psychological assault. So they are able to direct most of their energy to accomplishing personal goals as well as group tasks and goals. 
  3. Are your members recognized for achieving goals? Both individual growth and group goals are important. For example, when members complete any section of the North American Division teacher certification program, are certificates presented to them during prime attendance times? Are they commended in the church newsletter? 
  4. Is there an emphasis on teamwork in your congregation? Are the words “we” and “our” heard more frequently than “I” or “my”? Rather than individual members taking personal credit, a cohesive congregation will emphasize the group’s accomplishments. 
  5. Is there a climate of praise and reward in your congregation? While constructive criticism is important, members must feel that their efforts are appreciated. Cohesive congregations reward individual and team effort and initiative. Letters of appreciation, celebration dinners, and certificates of appreciation are some of the ways cohesive congregations recognize the work of teams and make everyone feel appreciated.  

Time to Share

Cohesive groups find creative ways to engage volunteers and share the work of the Sabbath School—and to commend them. Members find ways to balance social needs and ministry. 

Score yourself on a score of five (Good job!) to one (Needs improvement.).


Carole Kilcher
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists