Creating an environment of affirmation is one of the primary keys to having open, vulnerable, authentic conversations. Affirmation bypasses the head and pierces the heart, directly opening the door and providing group members with the freedom to express themselves.
Below you’ll find five necessities for creating an environment of affirmation:
1. The group leader must model affirmation by affirming group members each time there is an opportunity.
2. The group leader must recognize that anything someone does right is worth affirming. A leadership guru was once asked when it was appropriate to affirm someone. His response: “Catch people doing something right; then tell them.”
3. The group leader must have his or her affirmation antenna up at all times. If you listen for opportunities to affirm, you’ll find them.
4. When leading the group Bible study, the group leader must consistently affirm people when they respond, especially those who seldom do.
5. The group leader must practice everywhere. Being an affirmer at home, at work, and when hanging out with friends will not only be good practice, it’ll make you the most well-liked person in the room.
Rick Howerton is the Small Groups and Discipleship Specialist at Lifeway Christian Resources. He has authored many small group studies, is a highly sought-after trainer and speaker, and is the author of Destination Community: Small Group Ministry Manual as well as A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic. He is also the co-author of Disciples Path: A Practical Guide to Disciple Making and Countdown: Launching and Leading Transformational Groups. But Rick’s deepest passion and his goal in life is to see “a biblical small group within walking distance of every person on the planet making disciples that make disciples.”