Creating a Safe Place
Wherever we go, there are expectations. Some expectations are communicated directly, like when you go to a restaurant and you see the sign that says: you must have a shirt and shoes to get service, those are the expectations of the restaurant. Other expectations are socially taught to us like when you go to school, the expectation is to listen to the teacher. Regardless, it’s important to communicate expectation. So what is your expectation for your lifegroup? Some examples can be:
Expecting lifegroup members to keep the personal information of others private
Expecting lifegroup members to be encouraging and uplifting
By stating these expectations, you are creating boundaries in hopes that people will feel safe to share their struggles.
The ‘where’ is always important to keep in mind when having lifegroup. You shouldn’t try to have a vulnerable lifegroup meeting at a public Starbucks or chipotle because the environment is not complimentary of what you want produced. As a lifegroup leader, the challenge is to see if there is anything in the environment where you hold your lifegroup meetings that could be changed to create a safer place. For example, maybe for a session you won’t use chairs but instead blankets and pillows on the floor for a more comfortable setting. Sometimes when we use chairs in a circle it can feel like an AA meeting.
Creating a safe place often requires you as a leader to be the first person to get vulnerable. When you get vulnerable it will give others the opportunity to be vulnerable. When others get vulnerable it will give you the chance to encourage them into God’s truth, this will help the process of your lifegroup members to feel safe. As a leader, your encouragement will encourage them to carry that same uplifting character. If it’s not hopeful, it’s best to not say it at all because negativity will kill a safe environment.