Ready? Set. Discuss.
We’re so glad you’re considering facilitating a discussion group based on the question (and the book), Is the Commission Still Great? Our goal is to de-stress the logistics so you can concentrate on meaningful conversation. Here’s how to tell if you’re a good fit to facilitate a group:
- Are you ready to explore what’s so great about the Great Commission and apply what you learn?
- Do you know people interested in global missions?
- Do you have a living room or know how to run a group video call?
If so, then congratulations! You are officially a qualified facilitator. Read on for some practical tips on inviting people, setting up the group, facilitating good conversation and staying connected with your group. If you answered no to any of the questions above, we recommend finding a partner and facilitating the group together.
At Pioneers, we believe missions is best done in community, and we hope you and your group members enjoy and learn from each other as you read, ponder and share.
Thank you for sharing this book with your friends! We hope it encourages, challenges and inspires each of you in your walk with the Lord and pursuit of the unreached. Below are some tips and attitudes to help build community and engagement in your group.
Partner with your church. At Pioneers, we believe that missions should be done in partnership with local churches. If your church has a small group program, consider suggesting this material to the coordinator so your whole church can learn together. Or, if you form a group informally on your own, let your church leaders know. They might even want to join you!
Facilitate, don’t teach. We recommend that you adopt the attitude of a facilitator and co-learner with the other group members, not a teacher. It can be tempting to jump in with the “right answer,” but this takes away from the discovery process and limits opportunities to interact with and learn from one another. Let the book provide the content so you can focus on listening and asking good questions. The goal is to get people thinking and learning about missions, not to make sure they agree with everything in the book.
Build trust & go deep. Creating space for group members to develop rapport and trust with one another helps them feel free to ask questions, share their experiences and more deeply engage in the learning process. When someone shares, don’t criticize. Respond with love and make sure others also engage them in a loving way. This is especially important if your group members don’t already know each other well. Don’t be afraid to take a surface conversation deeper by asking about the background or underlying beliefs of what someone has shared. There’s no need to rush. You don’t have to discuss every question.
Get everyone engaged. Throughout the meeting, please be sure that everyone talks and contributes to the discussion. If someone has yet to share, ask at least once during each meeting to hear their thoughts or questions so that no one becomes a spectator.
Leave room for the Holy Spirit. While we hope this group offers some direction to group members and the opportunity to process, we want to emphasize that the Holy Spirit is their true guide on their missions journey, not the discussion group. Encourage everyone to pray and reflect during the week as they go through the content.
Pray. Please pray during the week for your group members. Begin and end each meeting in prayer. If time allows, consider breaking up at the end of some meetings to pray for one another in groups of two or three.
Multiply. Invite your group members to consider facilitating a group of their own. They could do so in person or virtually, within their church’s small group structure or informally with friends.
Follow up. We all have the tendency to go back to “business as usual” once a group like this ends. During the last meeting, decide together on a plan for following up with one another. Make sure the whole group shares responsibility for encouraging one another to implement the takeaways they have identified. Include some specific check-in times.
It’s time to get the word out! Here are some suggestions for recruiting your discussion group members.
- Ask God to bring people to mind whom He is preparing for deeper missions involvement.
- Aim for 6-10 people. Consider including teenagers along with adults. If your group grows bigger than 10 people, we recommend dividing into two groups.
- Think outside your immediate circle of friends and invite people who may think differently about missions than you do and who have different experiences to share. Ask yourself who you’d like to learn from and invite those people.
- Try not to anticipate why people might say no (too busy, not interested, etc.). Just ask! Even if someone doesn’t join the group, you’ve still prompted them to think about missions. They might join a future group or read the book on their own.
- Start by explaining why you want to start the group. What about the book or the topic appeals to you? Others will resonate with your enthusiasm.
- Be ready with the logistics: the start and end dates, where you’ll meet, how long each meeting lasts, the cost of the book, any arrangements for childcare and what they’ll need to do each week to prepare.
- Decide in advance whether you will order books for the group through this website (at a discount!) or ask everyone to purchase their own copy. Some may prefer an e-book (available on Amazon).
Feel free to be creative in how you facilitate your group! Below are suggestions for organizing your time and space.
- We recommend hosting the group in a home, if possible, for a more relaxed feel. A virtual group can also work well if the group members are willing to engage.
- The discussion material is designed for 10 weekly meetings.
- Plan for each meeting to be about 90 minutes long. Use the first 15 minutes for the ice breaker and prayer. Then play the intro video and discuss the book content for about an hour (we’ve provided an ice breaker and discussion questions for each week). Reserve the last 10 minutes of your time for prayer.
- You’ll need a laptop, tablet or TV to play the intro videos. Test your setup in advance to make sure the sound is loud enough for everyone to hear. Portable speakers are often helpful to boost the sound from a laptop or tablet.
- Food always enhances fellowship! We’ve provided a snack suggestion for each week that connects to the content of the chapter. While snacks are optional, of course, these require very little prep and add a sense of fun. You might need to modify or supplement the snack list if your group members have allergies or dietary restrictions.
- If your discussion feels like it generates more questions than answers, don’t worry! Good questions are a great first step for learning and implementing new ideas. And Pioneers is here to help. When you get to week 5 of your group, let us know when your last meeting will be by filling out a short form. We’ll do our best to have someone from our team video call with your group to encourage you and answer as many questions as we can. We’d also love to pray for you and connect you to other resources to keep learning.
Group member weekly prep
- Read the relevant chapter. (For the first week, read both the Introduction and Chapter 1.)
- Pray and reflect on the topic.
Facilitator weekly prep
- Read the relevant chapter.
- Pray and reflect on the topic.
- Pray for your group members.
- Optional: prepare the suggested snack.
Tips for Virtual Groups
If you can’t gather your discussion group in one room, a group video call can be a good solution. Here are some tips specific to virtual discussion groups:
The 40-minute Zoom break: If you use a free Zoom account, your meeting time may be limited to 40 minutes. That’s not a problem. Just give everyone a heads up that when the meeting closes, they need to rejoin the call using the same link. The upside is that the cut-off guarantees you will end the discussion on time! You can either end at the second cutoff for a total of 80 minutes (instead of 90), or discuss all the way until the end of the second call and come back a third time to close in prayer (this would allow people to stay on afterwards and chat).
Tag Sharing: One way to avoid awkward pauses or talking over one another is to answer questions by tagging each other. For a topic where you want to hear from everyone, start by asking a specific person to share. When they’re finished, they tag someone else. This only works if the group is small enough that participants can keep track of who hasn’t responded yet.
Creating the Atmosphere
Your discussion group will have a much greater impact if the members feel connected to each other and to you as the facilitator. At your first meeting, take a little extra time to set the tone before you jump into the discussion, especially if you don’t already know one another. Introduce yourself, share some of your story and what drew you to this book, and seek to create an atmosphere that is warm and engaging. Then ask others to share about themselves and why they were interested in this topic.
Extra Discussion Questions
Worried about awkward silences? Lulls in the conversation can be a good sign that people are thinking. But just to be sure, we put together a whole list of extra discussion questions that you can lean back on. There is also a PDF version.
The weekly snack suggestions are intended to put a light-hearted spin on the content of each chapter. While you can go as gourmet and homemade as you like, these basic snacks are probably all available at your local grocery store and require very little prep.
- Carrots cut in circular slices (like coins)
- Ranch dressing
- Animal crackers
- Can of cake frosting
- Store-brand cookies
- Non-dairy milk
- Or Jello-O brand tapioca pudding
- Red/yellow/green bell peppers or red and green grapes
- Mini bagels and cream cheese or round crackers with peanut butter or cheese
- Travel theme: beef jerky, dried fruit, trail mix, and/or granola bars
- Instant theme: brownie-in-a-mug mixes
- Gummy worms
- Celery sticks
- Peanut butter or cream cheese
- Fruit punch
- Blue Gatorade
- Star sprinkles (or regular sprinkles)
- Ice cream bars
- Hot chocolate
- Carrot cake (homemade, bakery fresh, or a box mix)
- Cream cheese frosting
- Pretzel sticks
- Mini marshmallows
- Something vaguely French: frozen eclairs, mini croissants, or French fries
Ideas for Staying Connected after the Group Ends
All good things must come to an end, but that doesn’t mean your group can’t stay connected. Here are some ideas to help maintain the momentum you’ve built:
- Form a group chat to share questions, ideas and resources. Encourage group members to post both when they take a step forward in their missions participation and when they encounter an obstacle. Pray for each other and celebrate steps of obedience.
- Schedule a reunion in three months to share what God is doing in each of your lives.
- Divide into sets of prayer partners (2-3 people) who commit to checking in regularly with one another specifically about their insights and takeaways from the group.