by Lloyd Rankin, Vineyard national director
As leaders and disciplers, we must learn to do effective meetings with individuals or small groups. These are incredible opportunities to help shape a person’s life, and we should do them as well as possible.
We also need to decide which people we will see, and which people we will refer on to someone else. I will usually see someone who is moving towards making a commitment to Christ, someone just joining the church (to help him or her discover where they can fit) or one of our leaders. I refer other people on to others in the church. I would only see a man alone and would refer a woman to see another woman – and would urge you to establish and keep healthy boundaries and practices.
Points to ponder
1. Be disciplined about setting and keeping appointment times, even if you are meeting in your lounge or in a cafe. Your time, and theirs, is very precious, so respect it and use it well.
2. Before you meet, take time to be still and listen to what God might want you to do or say when you meet. We are prophetic people at heart – receiving from God and passing on what He gives us.
3. When you get together, take a little time to connect at the heart level. Talk about what has happened since your last meeting. Has the person done what they said they would do? It is always good to have something to follow through on.
4. Use an easy-to-remember structure for how you meet. Free form is great for social and friendship, but usually ineffective for mentoring or discipling. For a number of years I have used the G-R-O-W acronym to help me structure where we go in our time together.
G – Goal
The first step is to establish together what you would like to accomplish by spending this time with each other. The person you are seeing may already have a clear idea, or the goal may come out of asking a few questions like, “What is your biggest challenge/pressure right now?” or “What has God been speaking to you about lately?” or “What is your biggest question right now?”
R – Reality
The next step is to look at all the current factors – what is happening, how are they feeling, what is God blessing, what is working and not working, what are they currently trying etc. Our role is to help them understand their reality, to help them see clearly and give feedback to adjust the goal if necessary.
O – Options
This is the time to brainstorm, drawing out options they may not be seeing by asking questions and providing context and feedback. Then help them evaluate those options in the light of vision, values and reality.
W - Will
Help them commit to a course of action. It must come from them, if they are to own it. Help them make concrete, realistic next steps. “What are you going to do next?” It is the homework for the next appointment.
5. I like to aim for three things when I meet with someone – give them something to celebrate, something to learn, something to work on. If it is a conversation that is challenging, use the encouragement sandwich approach – something encouraging, followed by the challenge or correction, finishing with more encouragement!