Developing active listening skills, deepening relationships, and creating a safe place for people to share their insights and feelings in a congregational setting usually requires some deliberate planning! This week’s “Leading Mission Tip” centers around group discussion in which each person’s thoughts are truly valued and heard*: Have an object such as a rain stick or ball that participants pass from person to person. Outline these ground rules for group discussion:

1. When discussing a topic, the person holding the object speaks while all others listen. Set a time limit for speaking such as 3 minutes, depending on circumstances.
2. For a person to speak, he or she must receive the object from the previous person who spoke. To receive the object, the next person must restate what the previous person said to that person’s satisfaction. This ensures that each person has been heard and understood.
3. Each person should be given opportunity to speak before anyone can speak a second time on the same topic.
4. End with discussion about how people felt about the experience. Some people will feel the process was cumbersome. Sometimes we think we are listening carefully when actually we are merely crafting our response. Using all our senses so we not only hear but feel what the other person said takes concentration and time to develop.

*From Michigan Mission Center materials

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