I am trying a new approach. I call it a Focus Group.
This year we have been building relationships with the Asian Indians in our neighbourhood. Most of them are Hindus. We have enjoyed many parties and a few trips out of the city together.
Last month, as part of my wife's birthday party, I asked if they would like to try an experiment and get together for a Focus Group. I told them the topic would be "Finding Balance in Life".
To find out who was interested I gave everyone a piece of paper and told them to write their name and phone number. About 2/3 of the group signed up.
The day we got together I was nervous. I am task oriented and my wife is people focused. Instead of getting a fast start on the topic, the women gathered in the kitchen to make tea. To me it seemed like they took forever. Yet that was a very important time for people to catch up with each other and deepen relationships.
We had a few simple ground rules:
- This is a safe place to give your opinion.
- We don't expect you to agree with everything that people say
I wanted to make sure that everyone felt empowered to contribute. I told them that if they had an idea about "Living a Balanced Life" that they should write the idea and their name on a card and place it in the middle of the table. Then after my introduction I would start drawing slips and let that person lead the conversation. Over half the group put in an idea.
People liked the dynamic. The hard part for me is that my card was drawn last. Just as I was drawing it, one of the people said they needed to leave. The table grew noisy and I wondered if I had lost my opportunity to share a Bible story. But after a few minutes it quieted down and I was able to take my turn.
We ended with the question "What is one idea that you heard today that you would like to put into action?" Some shared their action point out loud.
We also decided that we would have our next Focus Group in three weeks.
After the meeting came the real important part: evaluation. My wife pointed out several things I could have better. I know I spoke to fast. I often do when I get nervous. I then asked the only Indian Christian family in the group for their feedback. They said I should have closed by praying for people. I think that is a good idea. I think the group would lilke it.
Please pray for us and this experiment. Experience shows that a group's culture is set by the third meeting. We've got two more opportunities to make adjustments. Pray that we would be sensitive to God's leading and that God will be changing people's hearts through our discussion and prayer.
I'll keep you posted on how it goes.
Here is the page I used for my introduction. I'd be glad to answer any questions.