SGL: Leading a home group: Asking a person to read

Leading a home group: Asking a person to read

There are few things more exciting than watching people grow spiritually.  Some people are going to be like John the Baptist and grow in difficult, desert conditions and deliver God’s message in difficult times.  However, most people are going to be far more hesitant to participate, let alone lead.  What about asking people to read Scripture in a home group setting? Does it matter?
It matters about asking people to read. Some people are afraid to read in public, because they may think they will say a word wrong, not know a word, or just stumble too much if they have to read.  Be careful not to call on people to read, unless you know them well and you know they are very willing to read.  Calling on someone to read may shut them down that night and even cause them to back out completely. Consider the following thoughts when you want people to participate by reading in home group.
People are afraid they won’t read well.  That prevents people from participating.  Some people did not learn how to read well in school or talk well publically.  Public speaking is one of the most fearful things people can do.  Many would rather die.  Even in a home group, it’s fearful for some.
People are afraid of unfamiliar words in Scripture. There are familiar words like Mary and Joseph, but there are also words like Jahaziel or Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (Is. 8:1), which look too scary to say in a closet!  People do not want someone else making fun of how they pronounce a word.  Even a snicker is intimidating, so people just don’t want to try.
People are “texting” communicators, rather than verbal communicators.  In our not so brave new world, people are getting used to texting back and forth and all the “text short-hand” causes people to text, rather than talk, even from opposite ends of a couch.  Hence, people would rather just sit and soak rather than do any reading.
Finally, people have been taught to be passive by watching television or the internet.  That passiveness rather than interaction makes people less willing to open up and read. 
So what do you do?  Here are several ideas.
First, ask for a volunteer to read the passage.  Normally someoneis willing to read it.  It’s okay if some would rather not.  Now, if the same person always does the reading, meet with them afterwards, outside the group and ask them to let others read and help them understand you are discipling everyone to get to the point of reading.
Secondly, talk to a hesitant person ahead of time to understand them.  Talk to the person to get to know them.  There might have been an incident in the past where someone made fun of them reading, or they used to stutter, or they just don’t think reading is “them.”  Listen to understand and empathize with them.  Compassionately and as a shepherd, ask them if they want to grow spiritually.  Then help them understand when they are ready, that reading is part of the process of growing spiritually. Help them see they will want to help others read and their overcoming will be an encouragement to others.
Thirdly, talk to a person ahead of time with a specific passage.If someone is not reading very often or at all, talk to them ahead of time and let them know a specific passage you would like them to read at the next group meeting and see if they are willing.  If willing, then make sure you tell them “thanks” right after they read, but don’t make a big deal about the reading in front of others.  After the meeting, affirm them much more enthusiastically and get their reaction.  Ask them if they are willing to do it again.  Keep working with the person to build confidence in the Lord and to participate with the group.
Fourthly, affirm those who read.  A simple “thanks” or “great” doesn’t hurt.  Is it necessary?  For most people it’s not, but what is the problem with giving extra encouragement and affirmation?  You’ll make disciples quicker by following these suggestions.
Asking someone to read is a small thing and yet it’s huge to some people.  A spiritual parent will consider where the person is in his/her spiritual growth and consider how best to stir him/her up to love and good deeds.


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