Leading A Session
TAKE 2 minutes FOR TRAINING
Rather than include the T2 Transcript, the following is the document from which this T2 content was extracted.
Although this document specifically references serving at the Edmonton Young Offender Centre, Deb Barlott‘s solid content can be applied to almost any of the venues to which Connecting Streams’ volunteers go. Thank you, Deb, for taking the time to put this in print so others can learn from your faithful service and experience.
SERVING ON THE EYOC BOYS TEAM (15 to 19-YEAR-OLDS)
For nearly everyone, it can be scary to go to a prison for the first time and it’s especially scary to lead a group the first few times. Most of us tend to worry whether we’ll do it right. It takes prayer, practice, and growing in our ability to trust in God’s faithfulness – to forget about ourselves and to trust that He will actually show up.
1. PRAY (the most important part of preparation)
If you’re the person leading, ask God to lead you in how you prepare, to give you a vision for the direction He wants you to go in the group that week, and to inspire thoughts and scripture that He wants you to use.
For your teammates and for whoever is leading that week, ask God to fill you all with His love for the boys in your group. Pray for unity on your team.
John 17:22 – 23 NIV 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Also pray for joy, and that everyone on the team will be encouragers to the guys in the group.
For the boys coming to your group, pray that God will give them a hunger to know Him and will shine His light into the dark places that keep them from being able to receive all that He has for them that day.
2. PREPARE WHEN LEADING
Study God’s word and seek Him as you prepare. It’s especially good to think of questions that might inspire discussion and bring out authentic discussion. After all your preparation, when you go to EYOC that evening, give all you have prepared and the entire meeting to God asking Him to use what you have prepared OR to interrupt and change it as He wills. In the past, I have mistakenly tried to follow all the “wonderful” notes I had prepared instead of relaxing and trusting God to carry me with what He wants to do in the group. The results weren’t very good.
3. ARRIVE AT THE FACILITY WITH TIME TO SPARE
We find that arriving well ahead of time allows us time to sign in, pray in the room together and to start right on time.
4. SEEK TO LISTEN AND UNDERSTAND
Ask God to give you ears to hear what the guys are REALLY saying when they speak and to give you God’s heart and words to respond to them (or sometimes to just stay quiet). Saying “thank you for sharing that” can be enough. Building caring relationships with those in your group will make all the difference in sharing God’s love and word.
5. PRACTICE ASKING QUESTIONS
As a follow up to listening/understanding, it helps to ask questions that help us understand more fully what the person is saying. We’ve found that asking questions opens communication and is a great way to get group participation and to bring out truths.
Because of the environment that we’re ministering in, we try not to ask questions that bring out personal information/experiences or expect the boys to share. It can be intimidating for them and EYOC isn’t a safe environment for sharing and disclosing among fellow inmates.
We try to make personal questions reflective by saying, “You don’t have to answer out loud, but just think about a time when you were … and maybe share your answer with God.”
Another option is to look at an example from scripture that illustrates the point, and ask questions about how the people in the scripture story were impacted etc. and where the answer can be found within the story. When we have done this, on occasion the boys have voluntarily given an example from their own lives without us asking.
6. AFFIRM EVERYONE IN THEIR RESPONSES
Without judgment, affirm everyone who responds– it takes courage to speak out in a group. Even if you think their answer is wrong you can say, “Mmm interesting, can you tell us more about why you think that?” OR “Mmm interesting, does anyone else have a thought?” OR “Thank you for that, (NAME)”.
You will be amazed how the Holy Spirit will bring out more truth that was missed – either through a scripture, through discussion or often through other members of your group or team.
If a youth is corrected, some may not take the risk of speaking out again.
7. GOD DOES IT
We don’t have the ability to change another person – only God can transform a heart. We can only go in as empty vessels (empty of ourselves) for God to flow through – to carry what He has given us. He’s the only one who can create hunger, prepare hearts and give life as we bring His Word.
John 15:4-5 (ESV) 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
8. TAKE PRAYER REQUESTS
We let the group know that we’ll take prayer requests from them at the end of the evening and pass them on to the Connecting Streams Intercessors who will pray for them during the week.
Each member of our team goes to different boys so there is time to get all the prayer requests.
Only on rare occasions do we pray with the person as the Holy Spirit leads – it is discouraged by the chaplain at EYOC. Also we aren’t allowed to solicit a commitment to Christ, but can respond if the youth asks for prayer to do that.
9. ENEMY EFFORTS
We are going on to the enemy’s turf (at least he thinks we’re on his turf) and it is important to recognize his lies and efforts to discourage us.
On our team, we find on the day of our group some may feel tired or don’t feel like going. But after going they are energized.
Some are ok before going in, but come away (especially after leading) under condemnation that they didn’t say what they should have, feel stupid, feel like they shouldn’t even be going, or are not as capable as others on the team.
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
He has a purpose for each one that comes on the team – sometimes the smallest contribution can have the biggest impact.
I’ve found it is an act of obedience (and a growth opportunity) to push through the feelings, to ask God to somehow use whatever happened for His glory and to help me learn how to grow and do better.
10. PRAY AFTER THE GROUP:
- that God will seal the good work He has begun in the hearts of those who were there and bring His word to their remembrance through the day and through the night in the weeks to come;
- that the enemy will not be allowed to steal, kill or destroy the good work that God has been brought to those in our group that day; and
- that God will protect the leader of that evening and that He will rebuke the devourer for their sake, so the enemy will not be allowed to bring condemnation or discouragement.
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TRAINER: Deb Barlott – CS Volunteer, Edmonton
SOURCE: Video prepared for TAKE2 (by L Falk – CS Staff, Edmonton)
POSTED: Jan 2019
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