How Do I Cultivate Meaningful Relationships in My Small Group?

It Starts With You

How do small groups move from being social circles to safe places of community and conversation? Dr. Mike Emlet, counselor and faculty member at Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF), encourages group members to take responsibility for their own role within small groups so that they can both enjoy and contribute to a meaningful community of growth. 

Mike Emlet practiced as a family physician for 12 years before joining the CCEF. He holds an M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania as well as a Master of Divinity degree from Westminster Theological Seminary. He has authored Asperger Syndrome, Help for the Caregiver, OCD, and Angry Children, and CrossTalk: Where Life & Scripture Meet.  

What has been your experience been with trying to get to know people in your groups and having them get to know you? Do you think it’s difficult to cultivate meaningful relationships in small groups?
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Cultivating meaningful relationships in small groups essentially begins with you. Each of us can take responsibility for being an honest contributor to our groups. 

As you look at yourself, would you say you are open, honest, and vulnerable with the groups you’ve been a part of? Why or why not?
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Mike shared the story of a man who opened up quite honestly in a group he was a part of, and it made a very positive difference in the group as a whole. The other men shared stories and experiences from their own lives as a result of their friend’s vulnerability.  

What difference does openness make in a small group? Share a time when you or someone you know talked openly in a group, and it created a special experience of sharing, trust, and vulnerability.
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Mike said that not only can we take responsibility ourselves for being open in sharing, but we can also ask deep, probing questions to prompt other people’s sharing. Are you good at asking this kind of question in your small groups? If so, what response do you typically get when you ask them? If not, take a minute to write down a few general probing questions that might be good to ask at your next small group meeting.
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Mike said at the heart of our sharing in small groups is admitting the ways we are weak and in need of Jesus’ grace daily. There’s no reason to be guarded or afraid of the relationships that might form. With God’s Holy Spirit as your guide, you are in a safe place that could bring about significant life change. So embrace sharing. Ask tough questions. See what God will do! 

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