Healthy Storytelling in Groups

Inspired by North Point Resources

In a group environment it can be challenging to share stories because some group members are reluctant to have the spotlight and others are over-eager and long-winded. Some share too much information, while others under-share.

So how do you find the sweet spot where each group member can share a story that helps us connect with each other and leads to meaningful relationships?

Here are five tips we can consider when inspiring our group members to share stories:

  1. Initiate and envision it

As the group’s leader, it’s our responsibility to cast a vision for why telling stories is an important part of building an environment of connection and care within the group.

  1. Model it

As a leader, it’s on us to model good storytelling. How you share your story may differ depending on the type of group. A small home-group might want to dive deeper into stories to build a solid relational foundation. Community Groups and Interest Groups may want to focus on a few key facts or icebreaker questions so that help people feel comfortable enough to begin to open up.

  1. Focus it

Without a specific focus or time guideline, the story invitation will be left wide open for entire life accounts or meandering stories that drain group members. To encourage a focused story, we could say something like, “Who wants to tell your Six-Minute Life Event story next week?” If it’s given a name, a theme and a timeframe, group members will assume that, well, they need to give a six-minute story based on one significant life event.

  1. Celebrate it

As group members tell their stories, we can identify ways to affirm and connect with them. Thank them for telling their stories. Provide encouragement. Take notes so you get an idea of what each member may need and how you or the group can help them throughout the group season.

  1. Follow Up

For some people, sharing in a group is a big deal because they aren’t used to it or they feel vulnerable. Afterwards, we overthink what was said or churn questions in our mind, which might deter them from sharing the next time. It’s a good idea to give the storyteller a quick call or text the following week to see how they think it went and to thank them for their transparency.

Providing space to tell our stories in our groups has benefits for both the individual and the group. Beyond getting to know each other, healthy storytelling helps us find our voice, see where God has been at work and inspires others to know they aren’t alone.

As you consider the best way for your group to get to know one another, here are some questions worth considering:

What are ways you’ve seen good leaders encourage healthy storytelling?

What are ways you’ve seen storytelling poorly handled?

What would be the impact on the group if individuals share too much?

What are ways, instead of sharing your own story, you have helped others tell their stories well?

 

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