No matter your leadership style or job title there has or undoubtedly will be a time when you are a facilitator.
Facilitation happens in dozens of ways throughout our day, if you’re with people either you’re facilitating or they’re facilitating you.
Have you ever walked out of a meeting, youth group, or discussion and thought the conversation quickly left topic and winded down a tangent? I have! In some settings, it seems to happen time and time, leaving me to wonder what the real point of the meeting or discussion is. There’s little progress, little authenticity, and I take little from the experience. Things like these become a waste of time. Which of course leaves me dreading the next meeting! I’m sure your thinking of whatever meeting or gathering that is for you.
Poor facilitation in our life groups, leader meetings, youth groups, and so on leaves our friends, volunteers, and students with that same frustration. The same thought of “is this worth my time” If you have poor facilitation, their answer will be NO!
To stop making common facilitation mistakes read on.
A good facilitator focus on process and content.
The process is the how the content is the what. In order to have a deeply meaningful youth group, life group, meeting or even discussion both the how and the what need to be clear.
The how makes the group norms, forms the standard behavior of the group. I know you’ve had a time at youth group or a when the teens get so derailed by disruptive behavior that you’d rather step on legos!
This is a result of poor process facilitation, being loose with the how.
Process Facilitation is…
The tools being used- are you scrambling to get tech working while you have 30 teenage faces staring at you and getting increasingly more antsy?
The rules or norms set- do students know what is expected of them? Are your team of volunteers equipped to handle misbehavior in a helpful and loving way? We believe that students have to belong before they believe and believe before they behave. But, that doesn’t mean they can show up to youth group and not follow the guidelines of the group. All students know how to be moderately respectful, if you have weak process facilitation then they’re going to opt right out of being moderately respectful, and you never even get the chance to get them to move them to believe. Repeated behavior becomes the norms for the individual then norms for the group. For more on setting and enforcing guidelines or rule see the resources below!
The Group Dynamics are their social cliques, is there people who never speak up, or are there people who suck up all the talking time. Group Dynamics recognizes that each person is walking in with a different experience and personality, yet we’re all here for one purpose, therefore everyone has value in the group.
The Climate- Is the environment comfortable and contributing what you’re trying to do. This is everything from the way chairs are set, to smells, and temperature, and noise/volume. Students don’t have the self-restraint needed to ignore climate disruptions (have you ever had it start raining really hard while you’re with teens, it’s like they’ve never seen rain before?!), so pay attention to the climate you’re setting, remove obstacles and distractions whenever possible!
The second component is Content Facilitation…
Content Facilitation is the what, you probably got into youth ministry because of the content! I don’t think anyone has ever got into youth ministry because they love process facilitation!
You’ve probably, okay certainly been trained in the what! You’ve been mentored, discipled, undergone the hard work to be ordained, you’ve lived a life following Jesus. That’s all training in the what! This is the exciting thing to share, you’ve got the best content to facilitate!
These are the components of content facilitation that you can use to deepen your ministry
The subjects for discussion – Being clear on this helps everyone stay focused.
The task- what are you asking them to do?
The problem being solved- Why are you asking them to do it?
The decision being made- What are they deciding today?
The agenda items- What is going to happen?
The goals- What is the goal for a student in your ministry? What’s the win? What’s celebrated?
Being clear on these things, specifically goals and agenda, will help your volunteers maximize their time. When you’re clear on these things you equip yourself and your team to be successful. It allows your volunteers to show up knowing their task, purpose, mission and do it. If your volunteers aren’t clear on those things your ministry will suffer. Take time now to define that for your team.
Though you’re the leader you have people with you for a reason, but if they don’t know that reason, they’re not really with you, and they probably won’t want to stay with you for long.
I love to serve, and I also love to lead! You want leaders who love to lead! But to attract or keep leaders who love to lead, they have to know where they’re leading people too! People who love to lead do it because they like to see results. If they don’t see results, or don’t know what result you want them to aim for they’ll get frustrated and find somewhere else they can serve with crystal clear purpose. Equip leaders with crystal clear purpose and your facilitation and theirs will work together to maximize success. This is hard to do, but it is necessary.
Also, being clear on the content and arranging sermons or discussion like above makes a clear picture for your students.
I know you didn’t sign on to be a facilitator but you are one! When you work on being an awesome process and content facilitation you become an awesome leader! You will attract and equip other awesome leaders and truly have a successful ministry. Don’t skip on facilitation, create norms that allow for everyone to know what to expect and see those norms through.
Resources you can’t skip this part!
1) How to address problem behavior lovingly!
This is the Nurtured Heart Approach, it's making waves in the education and child development field and its technique works! At Axiom, we’ve used it to help students in Emotional Disturbed classes become successful believers, who graduate high school early! In one case a parent came to us and said “I don’t know what you guys are doing here but keep doing it because my son is changing” teachers come to us asking how we’ve got kids to make changes that are seen through their lives and the answer is twofold 1) Jesus! 2) The Nurtured Heart Approach
Read about it here http://difficultchild.com/
3) To be an expert in facilitation in ministry read! Facilitation Skills for Ministry by Jo Whitehead Purchase it here on Amazon