Things got exciting around our congregation this summer. Two things happened specifically with our youth group. First of all, they went on a mission trip to Logan County, WV to work with Disaster Relief Services in the wake of the floods of this spring. It was a great trip where they worked hard, often under difficult conditions. The second thing that happened was even more unusual. Plastic flamingos began appearing in front yards throughout our community.

July 31, 2012 0 1 comments

What do you do? I am a “facilitative, organizing catalyst who brings energy, creativity andpassion to change or development-oriented efforts (catalyst) through building structures, methods or programs (organizing) that equip, empower or provide tools for growth (facilitative).” That is a mouth full.  

July 16, 2012 0 4 comments

The CRC that nurtured my growth as a child taught me that Jesus saves and is present for me to reach out to in prayer in times of need. There were also lessons about discipleship that the church of my childhood never taught me. 

July 10, 2012 0 2 comments

The Coffee Break idea started forty years ago and has grown into a missional movement of the CRC and many other denominations. Hear are some themes that might ignite kingdom growth in Coffee Break and small groups today.

June 26, 2012 0 2 comments

Small groups are small organizations. Small Groups and leaders can envision, model and practice spiritual transforming patterns. Jesus did that with his disciples. He led with prayer and dependency on the Word of God. He sent them out to do what he did, then brought them back for debriefing. The disciples followed...

June 19, 2012 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Melissa is a mom to active young children and her husband works long hours. She felt like her life was spinning out of control. Convinced that she’d keep perspective if she could to find even minutes alone with God, she asked her triad to hold her accountable to do that. She now finds regular...

June 11, 2012 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

God’s call to make disciples is undeniably clear. The strategy of how to go about disciple making can sometimes get fuzzy. Well-designed small groups of 8 – 12 are great environments for spiritual growth until the primary objective is lost and the natural tendency towards social fellowship...

June 5, 2012 0 6 comments

How does Alpha work? Alpha is a practical introduction to the Christian faith, where guests can explore the meaning of life and ask questions in a non-threatening, relaxed setting. The traditional Alpha course is 10 weeks long and includes a day or weekend long retreat half-way through the course. Alpha is simple and includes...

May 29, 2012 0 0 comments

Looking for a way to mobilize more people in evangelism in 1999, a few of us at church stumbled on to the Alpha Course. We were drawn to it because it offered a simple way to involve people in bringing the Gospel to their friends. We got a small pilot group together, followed the instructions, and went for it. 

May 21, 2012 0 0 comments

A metaphor that has helped me understand and lead small group ministry is this: Growing a small group discipleship ministry is like growing a garden. Small group coordinators and leaders must ask gardening questions. How would you answer these questions about your small group ministry? 

May 14, 2012 0 3 comments

"Time flies when you're having fun."  I guess I would say that would be my mantra too having been the guide of the Network's Small Groups section for some sixteen months or so.  I don't know where the time went. And now that I'm moving on I thought I'd just do a little reflecting.

May 7, 2012 0 1 comments

The Sonship material comes in various formats, some which are shorter and less intensive than others. When considering how to use Sonship, it should be noted that more is better. However, being exposed to the material in any of several formats has value.

April 25, 2012 0 0 comments

Read an interview with Todd Murphy, a pastor who has incorporated the gospel into his own life and the life of his church. Learn how people who have been in the church all their life have been dramatically changed. In addition, discover how outreach is radically different when people in the church believe and live out the gospel in their own lives.

April 17, 2012 0 0 comments

Sonship is written and taught from a Reformed perspective, and it moves our great theological truths from our heads into the nitty gritty of life. Its perspective is life changing and practical and sets a foundation for other forms of discipleship.

April 9, 2012 0 19 comments

Discipleship. Spiritual Formation. Christian Formation. Spiritual Transformation. Missional Discipleship… Have you heard these terms and wondered which each meant?

April 2, 2012 0 0 comments

I know for myself that I lead by doing and coming alongside potential and present leaders to encourage, support and train them.  It is usually the case that when there is a lack of leadership it is because there is no environment or atmosphere of leadership development happening in the church.

March 27, 2012 0 0 comments

If you're going to include PB small groups as part of your disciple-making ministry, you will need to spend more time than most on a plan to initiate intentionality on moving people forward in their spiritual growth. People's natural tendency will be to stay comfortable and not become disciples or at least as Jesus intended them to.

March 13, 2012 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

A recent comment by a reader mentioned their understanding of small group ministry was that everything from the choir to a group of people from the church who met to talk about gardening or scrapbooking was a small group. For years CRHM encouraged churches to adopt the Principle-Based model/...

February 21, 2012 0 0 comments

Even though I've been writing and posting in small groups for over a year now, I haven't necessarily covered what you've been looking for.  Here's your chance to challenge me with some ideas for articles and blogs.

January 30, 2012 0 4 comments
Resource, Article

I’ve been looking forward to working my way through Building a Discipling Culture by Mike Breen and Steve Cockram.  If you read my review of Launching Missional Communities or my 5 part interview with Mike Breen, you know that if anyone has a handle on making disciples in the post-Christian...

January 16, 2012 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

This is a question I have been wrestling with for some time now.  There is such a disconnect from what people say they believe and follow and how they actually live.  Just recently I heard of two more (seems to be rampant as of late) marriages that have ended in divorce because of infidelity.  ...

January 5, 2012 0 2 comments

Our church has just hired a part time ministry coordinator for small groups.  We want to equip her as well as possible and have some ideas about training but wonder if there are good ideas out there.  What should be on our list of things to have her experience and learn and participate in as she...

December 29, 2011 0 10 comments

December is busy enough. So who wants another event?  Why not maximize your normal December activities by inviting someone along. Or you could use the most of the December opportunities to grow and start new small groups in January.  Here are some good things to consider...

December 12, 2011 0 0 comments

Asking good questions is almost an art form in my opinion.  I'm talking about well-phrased, intentional, smart questions that open people up to get to the heart of the matter.  Smart, well-placed questions can take your small group to a whole new level of sharing and growth.

November 28, 2011 0 0 comments

For many years within the small group realm there has been a lot of discussion on whether small groups should be open or closed. Perhaps our default mode especially in our CRC communities is to err on the side of being comfortable and thus short-circuiting true discipleship... This repost has a lot o reads but would be better with some discussion :-)

November 22, 2011 0 0 comments



Thanks for your encouraging words, Freda! :)


That's so exciting that you use listening prayer.  The Heart to Heart Ladies Dinner I attend also used that method of prayer a number of times and it was such a blessing to us as well, even though we are still on a learning curve with the listening part.  Its so much more comfortable and easy to pray for our needs or our neighbour's needs , much harder to stop and listen for God's response to our needs and how we can bless each other with that.  Thanks for sharing and passing on the study guide information.  I hope others will be blessed by it as well.


I really appreciate your expressed sentiments about women.j

I am part of a group of women who meet every other week for prayer. The Lord has led us to listening prayer. We listen to some music, pray thanksgivings and blessings together and then we sit quietly and listen. Later, those who want to, have opportunity to share what they've heard from the Lord - It's amazing how it all fits together and feeds, refreshes and challenges us. Our God is an amazing God - and as hard as it is to do - I cherish these listening prayer times with other women.

Some of the women in this group first got to know each other in a different group of women, which was also very spiritually uplifing and wonderful. A group of us studied "Bethesda, Come to the Water: A Bible Study Guide for Women". It was fun for me, because although I am the author, I was able to just come to the study as a participant while someone else led the group. It was truly a blessing and I would recommend the study guide to other women. It's available through Faith Alive.

The common theme in both these groups is that a space was created, a space for quiet, a space for acceptence, a space for deep sharing. We miss it if all we do is hurry on to the next thing. Our Lord wants to bless us, we have to put ourselves in a position to receive His blessings.

What a wonderful idea!  Thanks for sharing your event, Barb.  I love the passage you chose for your brunch.  It gets at the heart of the reason   we need to keep meeting together, that we may encourage each other on toward love and good deeds. Woman do need to keep meeting together for its in community that we are encouraged  and there are so many creative ways of doing community just as your brunch so clearly shows.  I'm glad to hear you will continue meeting together as women of faith and I hope your comment has encouraged more women to step out in faith and reach out in love to other women.

I belong to Anaheim CRC in Anaheim, CA. My friends and I just threw a "Neapolitan Progressive Brunch" for the adult women (18 and over) of our church. "Neapolitan" meaning mixture, we invited women of all "Ages and Stages". :) The devotion was based on Hebrews 10:24-25 "Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching."  The message coincided with the devotion of how  "Women need Women" and the speaker shared a funny story of how she met and made a new friend and how we should NOT give up meeting together but spur one another on in good deeds. We capitalized on the "Neapolitan" theme and every dessert, balloons, cookies, candy, paper plates, tableclothes were ALL in neapolitan colors of brown, white and pink - down to the breakfast casserole! (Hashbrown casserole with ham and egg - brown, pink and white). Each breakfast course included a question like, "Share what brought you to our church and why do you stay?" or "Share an embarrassing moment" or "Give words of encouragement to those around your table". It was such a nice time to laugh together, share and to get to know one another better (name tags were a must.) It was so beautifully presented with alot of attention to "foo foo". (Ladies know what I mean by that! :)). We charged a mere $5 per person. Suffice it to say that, "Women need women" and we'll do something along this line again...soon...we will NOT give up meeting together. :)

Submitted by; Barb Andreas

Thanks Sarah for your comments and for providing a link to your blog.  I really could relate to your July post about needing to slow down  and connect with God.  I am first a child of God and then a wife, mother, and whatever job I have on the go.  Its so often easy to forget that, in all the busy-ness.  Thanks for sharing, and I hope you keep blogging.

I love this idea!  I recently turned over my position as Women's Retreat planner for our church, but remain very passionate about what a great work God can do in the lives of women when we open up to Him.  I actually pitched a blog idea similar to this to the Banner.  I ended up starting a blog but could not mainain the posting on my own.  You can see what I've done in the past here  I hope your blog takes off.  It's a wonderful idea!

Just came across this resource recently.  I've been reading M. Scott Boren's blog lately and happened upon this gem.  If you are not familiar with his two books, Missional Small Groups and one he cowrote Introducing the Missional Church, get them and read them.  They are exceptionally valuable.

Here's the gem.  Scott has a website of FREE stuff including video teaching via You Tube.  If you have Real Player Pro and something similar with the ability to capture online video you're set to burn them to DVD for your groups.  And Scott gives permission to do this.  

A couple of great studies to check out are The Journey Together: Training Groups for Effective Group Life.  This study is not just training for leaders but the whole group.  It is an excellent study for a new group.  It's similar to Zondervan's ReGroup: Teaching groups to be groups, but is more extensive.  Each person brings something different, both good and bad, to the group.  The Journey Together helps the whole group understand its function and dysfunctions and how to work together.

Another study goes along with the book Missional Small Groups and leads the group toward a more practical understanding and commitment to making a difference in one another's lives and their community.

Here's the link to the FREE stuff on the site. Click Here

Free awesome curriculum?  Who can pass that up?


Of course when I refer to "comfortable pew" I am referring to those who believe just coming Sundays is all you need.  It should also be comfortable for those who come weary and burdened and need rest for their souls.

We definitely need to do a whole lot more sackclothing in our churches.  Besides our denomination not having evangelism in it's original DNA we have made discipleship into going to church, sending your kids to Sunday school and Christian School,  actually isolating ourselves from the real world and in so doing raising generations that haven't a clue how to really engage it with the Gospel.  But that's not discipleship -- just being a good churchy Christian.

People wonder why I'm out there networking with non-Christians and having a great time playing music and being available to students or participating in the Chamber of Commerce and the local homeless shelter.  Simple, it's what Jesus expects of us as disciples.  If we're going to be true disciples of Jesus he expects us to "SELL OUT"  for him.  And I'm trying to lead our church in that same direction.  There should be no such thing as the comfortable pew unless you've just spent your time reaching out to the lost and those in need and just need a little rest for your bones.  Bring on the sackcloth, we've got a lot of repenting to do.

AMEN... akd.  You da Man. 

"Ninevites" are part of God's redemptive people, as scary as they may look.  A real disciple doesn't sit under a shelter or a vine, he or she, gets in the sackcloth with the people, the king, and the animals and helps them find their right hand and their left hand.  Give me more sackcloth!

Glad that my post could help. I'd like to hear about your ministry. Shoot me an email:

What Alan shares reminds me of James K Smith's book Desiring the Kingdom.  This past January at the Worship Symposium at Calvin College he talked about how the mall is a religious institution.  It was eye-opening to me as I began to see more comparisons such as sports stadiums.  We are loaded with consumeristic religion.  This is a great explanation of the lack of committment that churches are finding and we also see that when someone "gets it" in terms of a relationship with God and each other then they die to themselves or to the consumeristic religion.

I just witnessed it this past week at a youth group SERVE project where the kids were allowed to use their cell phones, iPods, etc. but because of the fellowship and worship that they were a part of those electronic devices were rarely used.  Without knowing it those kids understood that consumerism is a fading shot of happiness.



A couple years ago I heard Greg Hawkins of Reveal fame when in my home city with "Reveal on the Road" reflect on his pre-reveal days as one of the designers of Willow Creeks whole move to be a church of small groups through a meta-church structure. In the 90s when Willow was knee deep in this model, I went to a small groups workshop  at Willow in which they described and taught their small groups method. They talked of being a church OF small groups, rather than a church WITH small groups.

Back to Greg in Houston a couple years ago. He made mention that small groups are important, but stated that at Willow they had expected small groups to carry more weight than they could possibly handle. If you are familiar with that approach to small groups you will remember that small groups were supposed to provide affinity, spiritual care, discipleship and service all within one group. A nice clean theory, but as Greg said, too much to expect of small groups. In my own church plant, as we tried to implement the model it seemed to continually fall down at the place where one or another person in our church structure was weak as a disciple.

It seems to me that back then we saw small groups as an end, because we assumed that with many in small groups and the right meta-model all that stuff would happen well, efficiently and effectively. But it may be much better to see small groups as a means/a method/an approach that can possibly do discipleship quite well. I wonder if in the end discipleship is not a better goal and we ask ourselves questions like what is best building disciples?  Small groups? something else?

Sure Dale,

Ascending Leaders has curriculum such as "Charting Your Course"  "Spirit's Fruit" and "Giving Forgiveness. In the course of each lesson there is an accountable covenant that is read and agreed to.  Toward the end of the small group time ( i usually do it after the lesson/teaching/ or discussion time, we break off for 10 minutes into groups of three (go to two not four if you have an even number of participants.  There in the "triads" which is self-led, the people ask about an action point they were going to work on or what action point they will take away for the next week as a result of the just completed lesson.  Each one shares successes and failures.  It's high accountability and taking growth in Christ seriously.

Have Fun.


Hi Allen, (Dale here)

Hello Pete, to borrow a phrase - you had me at - It works.

Please tell me more about successful triads - I am intending to launch such in in the fall.


To answer your question Allen, I am convinced that Small Groups will only make disciples through intentional accountability. Ascending Leaders accomplishes this though "triads"  It is small groups dividing into smaller groups of 3 at the end of the time together and seriously asking each other the hard questions of what each person is doing to grow  more Christ-like as a result of the lessons recently covered.  It works.  


Hey Allen, just opened, which is built for the purpose of resourcing small groups. Think SermonCentral, but for small groups.  It's new, so it still needs community submitted content, but thought it would go well on your list. 

Take care,

Thanks Alina.  There is a used copy available via Amazon.  I have found seven books on this topic and now need to select one without reading each of them.

Sorry to say that Faith Alive Christian Resources doesn't have anything current on Job. We did have it in the Revelation series some years ago. You might be able to find a used copy on Amazon or through another seller. It was titled Job: Challenging a Silent God (written by Joel Kok) and published under our old name, CRC Publications.

John, these are good questions worth asking.  Of course groups come in all different shapes and sizes; some churches have small groups based on principle (the CRC used to promot principle-based groups, but not so much anymore), that is people created small groups in the church based around interests mainly.  So people gathering to do scrapbooking could be seen as a viable small group in the church's ministry.  That is nice and all, but by-and-large wasn't really focusing people to grow in Christ and focus on the mission of God - -perhaps in small respsects some of this naturally happened, but that was not their purpose.  But when the focus of the ministry of the church is the misson of God to reach a lost and hurting world with the gospel and develop disciples as active kingdom members then the life and health of the group is very important as is it's focus to support the mission of the church.

Newness helps groups for sure as everyone is pretty much focused on the same page or at least should be.  Leaders direct that energy to foster community and engagement in the life of the group.  But what often happens is that enemy "comfort" rears it's ugly head already within the first year.  It doesn't take long before the group just wants to be a place of comfort and even subconsciously work toward that end.  They don't have a problem talking about God, Jesus and the bible, but they don't want the application questions to get too personal.  This is where things usually begin to break down in group life.  And it's hard to maintain the momentum of continued growth without a leve of dissonance.I think that if groups are honest with themselves and regularly take inventory and evaluate they may be willing to regularly deal with this, that is unless they'd prefer to stay comfortable -- safe and comfortable are not the same thing.  Such groups that evaluate regularly and stay committed can be the ones that last longer.

While a small group can sometimes be like a family it is not and the dynamics are significantly different.  For one, people arent' bound to the small group like blood kin and so people don't have that kind of intimacy with one another.  I think Mark raises imporant questions for groups to stay focused on the mission of growing disciples and reaching people.  If that's not happening are the groups being effective in the mission of God?


I've always appreciated something Rick Warren once said, "God is more interested in your character than your comfort." Where there is not dissonance there is no growth.

posted in: I See Dead Groups

Just a question:   if a group only is effective for 18-24 months, is this because it is new?   Is the excitement of newness what sustains it?   Can a small group mission be achieved in 24 months?    How is a small group, or a large group, perceived to have purpose beyond the excitement of "newness"?   In a family (which is a type of small group), it takes 16 years to raise one child.  And it doesn't always seem new or even effective.   Yet there is a need to continue to fulfill the purpose and vision.   Is there an analogy here with a small group? 

posted in: I See Dead Groups

And then say good bye WELL, rather than a few key people dropping out, and it limping along on life support for a while before the others also acknowledge the elephant. If the group ends, then there's opportunity for each person in that group to find something MORE fulfilling to be involved in, which perhaps, would be a good direction for the emphasis when ending a group...

posted in: I See Dead Groups

Most certainly it's the hardest since people find it difficult to admit it.  While it's never easy, I have found that if the church has a good small groups director they can meet with the group and lead an evaluation with the members.  The hardest part is when there is little support like that and someone in the group is left to raise the issue of the elephant in the room -- very difficult indeed.  This is the reason why we always say that small groups ministry must have clear vision and mission so that it is easier to see when groups are not on the page.

Someone should give groups permission to die if that's what is necessary.  This is true for any ministry in the church.

posted in: I See Dead Groups

Just re-reading some of the these comments and I find it ironic that while denouncing about "classifying people" you use a ethnically loaded classification and somewhat derogatory monicer ("waspish") for the person you mention.  Something to think about.

Oh most certainly depending on the circumstances.  Each situation is unique unto itself and must be responded to as such.

My questions is - how do you end a group well once you've realized it's dead? I think this is the hardest part of things.

posted in: I See Dead Groups

Try "The Storm Breaks" by Derek Thomas, part of the Welwyn Commentary Series, "Crying out for Vindication" by David R. Jackson, part of the Gospel According to the Old Testament Series, and Mike Mason's "The Gospel According to Job".

Dear Bill,

On the Book of Job, I would recommend "A Battle for Righteousness" by K.J. Popma, a Dutch scholar who wrote this book in the 1950's.  I have translated and published this from the Dutch, and have lots of copies still available.

Write me your address and I will send you a copy for you to review.

Eugene Peterson calls it, "... a new friend into our English speaking communities of faith. Popma, ..., gives us Job as true Christian Gospel, a profound immersion in God's ways with us."

You can e-mail me at   <>




Yes it is a good question and I will be exploring this a bit more in the next few weeks, perhaps some of it in article form.  I can say this, leaders really need to be trained in listening to the Holy Spirit and how they can lead especially during group application and prayer to slowly and intentionally encourage people to open up.  Certainly inviting the Holy Spirit to be present during the meeting.  But I'm also thinking about teaching people to really intercede during prayer leaving time for silence asking the Holy Spirit to specifically lay things on our hearts, not to rush and fill the emptiness. You know, teaching groups to practice this together.  Leaders really need to stay on top of it to make sure people don't rush it.    Things along those lines.

The nice thing about small groups is that you can try new things and openly talk about them.


More to come.....

Tantalizing!   I want to hear MORE on HOW small groups can help us be more open, and can help us be transformed.  Your first question is the POWER question: How DO small groups help people open up to the Holy Spirit?

I have the draft and am working my way through it. I will get back to you.


Good to hear Reg.

Allen, actually let me have you read/critique draft #2 here. (You can disregard draft #1 I sent earlier.) On those highlighted sections, I would appreciate if you could help fill in with your own inputs. Thanks again.

Hi Allen, I can;'t remember for sure if I sent you the paper for which I requested your critique. You can read/download it here from Google Docs. Kindly confirm if you received this. Thanks! --fernando


I have not yet received anything from you via email.  Have you sent it?

Depending on the circumstances, I could agree.

Hi Allen, it took me awhile to forgive your very late response to my posting. -:) Bottomline, I forgive you - and I hoipe you'd forgive me too for this equally late response. Good to know we're all under grace!

Allen, this is to alert you that I'll be sending you a separate email to request you to critique and contribute to a paper we at Leadership Exchange is currently drafting. It's a paper on Intentional Discipleship & Disciple-Making (IDDM) through a program we call 1:1 CHALLENGE. I will also be asking you and a few others with a passion for disciplemaking in the church to join a soon-to-be-formed advisory group for IDDM.

So as a "forgiven" Network Guide, Ihope to hear from you... sooner than later. Thanks!

Fernando del Rosario (aka, livingcrc)

Hi Allen:

Bought the book "Missional Small Groups", and am very excited about the approach. Would recommend this book to anyone looking at the purpose and place of small groups in their church / community.

Oh yes, I would hope that a leader would be self-reflective as well to make sure that they are not the person derailing and are sensitive enough to allow the group to go off course when necessary in order to meet a need within the group.  I would also hope that the church has the necessary coaching and oversite in place to minimize having people with their own significant  E.G.R. (for lack of a better term) issues to be leading.


Having said that, I would also hope that my leaders help keep the group focused on the overall intention, mission and purpose of the group so that "allowing the group to go off course when necesssary" in order to meet a need or someone's need does not become the central focus of the group in the sense that it becomes only a support group-- know what I mean? There are different kinds of groups for that sort of thing.   For example, as a pastor I can counsel someone only to a certain point then I can say, "I can support you spiritually and pray for you, but this issue needs to be dealt with in a deeper way than I can handle," referring them to a therapist.  There may be a season when a group gathers around someone in the group to focus on a severe or significant issue (ie, a failing marriage, job loss, a tragedy), but when a person or people begin to regularly reroute the group by their own personality issues or social inadequacies the leader needs some frame of reference, some tools in their tool box to make sure they can keep the group in focus while acknowledging the individuality and diversity within the group. 

Do you agree?


You have a point (nuancing?) on the difference between a small group that meets regularly in a church basement and someone trying to exert political influence by assembling what they thought would be a power group fitting their agenda.

However, after re-reading the article I did not see anything that would preclude my example from fitting the implied definition of "small group." 

By "waspish" I meant the commonly used shorthand for white, anglo-saxon, protestant.  I thought that would be understood and it is partly why I included the ethnicity of the lady who literally took over the discussion.  She exhibited most of the traits of  E.G.R. Type #1, except "needy."  She definitely was not needy.  (If I mentioned her by name many in West Michigan would know who I am talking about, she is that iconic).


In my opinion, part of  what was missing in the article is something that I think Ken was also hinting at and which my example, I thought served to demonstrate.  Leaders have agendas and when someone does not fit their stereotype of audience, yes, e.g.r. applies, but I would hope they would be self-reflective enough to wonder if it did not extend to themselves.  Otherwise there is the danger of pigeonholing people.

I have been in many other small group sessions, in church basements, where the leader(s) also had agendas and one quite quickly got the idea that it could be the leader who fit E.G.R. Type 1.  (I have a concrete example in mind)

I would have appreciated if the author had stated the possibility that perhaps E.G.R. was required for the leader, as I felt was needed just a teeny bit for the article.  

Again, I think Ken had a point.

Not sure what you mean by "waspish", but nonetheless one would expect certain expectations at such a public meeting of collective representation to be agenda driven for sure. Of course I don't know the nature or content of the African-American lady's diverted path either (not that ethnicity should matter), and I'm not sure if that forum was the best place to air her laundry. But in a setting like that -- which is not the same as a weekly small group that has a completely different focus -- the opinion on that question can vary extensively as to what is appropriate or not.

I think that Steve did nuance his feelings and intentions in the beginning of the article. There is a sense of caring for the individual (the reason for the article among others) as well as the group for each area he describes. Certainly we all have "personality types", but some can be more harmful to group life than others.  But you may feel different.

I would be curious as to how you might write this article differently if it were a tool for a leader. How may you have nuanced it and brought more humility into the picture?  Knowing Steve, I think he would appreciate the feedback which I would be happy to send him.


An example came to me after the last post:

I was invited by a chic, smart young lady from Planned Parenthood to be a part of a discussion for one of our state legislators, who happened to wield a lot of power.

Obviously, the discussion was to follow a certain path.  The leader was about as waspish (without the "p" perhaps) as you could get.  The group was diverse including a local African-American female with an iconic status.  She took over the discussion into paths absolutely contrary to the agenda of the Planned Parenthood leader.

The "diversity" opinion was very opiniated, domineering (likely, according to the article's definitions).

I cheered the entire time, silently saying "go, girl."


I too have been a part of groups for many years, as well as a supervisor responsible for running group meetings.  

"Personality types" exist in all of us and there was a lack of recognition in the article of this.  

I have been in groups where the leader (find me a leader who doesn't) had an agenda, and that is fine but used their own limited agenda to be controlling, whenever the discussion went in productive paths they deemed beyond their control.

This article did a lot of labelling, lacked nuance and self-reflective humility.





I can appreciate your comments.  I thought this had potential to stir the pot.  All I can say is that having coached leaders for a very long time, this is one of the key areas that crops up all the time, and I do mean all the time.  I've seen leaders quit because of the frustration such members can bring to the group.  There are many times the above described members can seriously hurt the group if proper assessment and action is not taken.

For those who are participants in a group they may not have the slightest idea how stressful a difficult personality type can be for a leader who really does care about them, but has no idea how to help them and the group.  I myself have led many groups and every so often someone with some serious personality issues comes in and throws the whole group out of whack.  While you may not agree with everything Steve wrote, the article is meant to be a helpful reference point for leaders who find themselves in such a frustrating situation.  It's a tool for the tool box.

While no one likes to button hole anyone, the purpose of this article is more to help recognize the potential issue and help stabilize the group dynamics so that everyone feels cared for and accepted.  A good leader can help such a person find balance within the group and the leader can help the other members more effectively respond to such a person.  It can be a helpful starting point for many leaders who may otherwise feel completely helpless. 

Precherkid, I think Steve's intention is not homogeneity but rather some balance in the group.  It doesn't hurt diversity, but rather allows people to be themselves within the bounds of healthy group dynamics. Let me give you an example; I know of numerous groups who had a person  with severe co-dependency issues.  No matter how gracious people were to them eventually their personal issues and needs began to take over the group at every meeting derailing it finally frustrating members to the point of almost quitting.  Every meeting became about this person's problems which may or may not have been created by them.  The group was a mess and the leader was ready to quit.  No one wanted to talk about the elephant in the room, but it needed to be dealt with.

Many leaders struggle with these issues. It has been my experience that this issue is a very difficult one to talk about, but it is more prevalent than people realize.

I clicked on the link to this article specifically because I lead a small group and thought it would be good for me to learn how to encourage and help any of the members who might be "E.G.R" types. I agree that we can't label and classify everyone, but I find it helpful to learn different strategies and methods of dealing with different types of behavior.

As I clicked the link, I was hoping that the article would go beyond naming types of people and actually contain practical advice. This article definitely has some good, practical advice that I will find helpful as I lead my group.

Article seems fairly opinionated and controlling.

Perhaps attempting to go beyond diversity to homogeneity?


  I do not want to judge Mr. Gladen, But I do not agree with these kind of approaches to classify human behavior. They fall short because we are all profoundly unique. It also assumes a arbitrary standard of behavior.   For instance, when someone is at the survival level, who are we to judge what the correct reaction is or what the Spirit driven emotional response should be to what ever the hurdle in life. These types of behavioral assessment programs can lead to false judgements because everyone displays some of these traits at different times.

  Leaders should be aware of the proper response to a tough small group situation but not assume that is who the person is. Small groups are a unique social environment that bring out behaviors that are unique.

  The author no doubt has good intentions but the proper way is to treat each situation in the meeting at face value without the judgements.


That's an interesting observation John.  For some that may be true.  But I know that when I'm tired I struggle to really actively listen.  Active listening makes me even more tired because my brain has to work so hard to really absorb.  But for some it may work.

posted in: Give Ear

I've sometimes wondered whether we are better listeners when we are tired, when we do not have the energy to respond or to try to "fix" things, so all we can do is listen and absorb.  :0)   So maybe there is a gift in being tired, sometimes. 

posted in: Give Ear