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7 Group Member Personality

Types and How to Bring Them
by Andrew Mason
What do you do when a person? Dot, dot, dot. As Small Groups Pastor, whats
about to follow is a question about handling a certain type of personality during a
small group meeting. Sometimes this dynamic can even be an excuse for a person
NOT to host or lead a small group, but it doesnt need to be.
For me, these types of situations bring a smile to my face because the fun thing
about church, ministry and life is the unpredictability of working with people. Make
no mistake about it either; small groups are all about working with people. A small
group meeting is the art of blending different personalities into an expression of
biblical community.
Instead of being frustrated, fearful or nervous about doing the wrong thing, I think
we should welcome these opportunities into our life because they will help us grow
extremely fast and many of them will create memorable stories for years to come.
In this article I want to layout seven common small group personalities that you
will encounter in small group meetings along with some blending solutions (I
shared many helpful hints in my Starter Kit article, 5 Facets of Facilitating with
Finesse, which I will refer to). Hopefully, this will partially remove the fear of the
unknown. As you read about each one just know that not only will you have these
people in your small group eventually, but theres a little bit of you (in some cases
a lot of you) in each of these personality traits, too.
1. The Over-Talker. This is the person who gives long 5-7 minute answers
several times within a discussion segment. When they begin to answer a question
everybody squints their eyes and tries to exert grace while they wonder, How
long will they talk this time?
We want to love this person but we also cannot allow them to dominate the
conversation. For more on this, see my point on how toStay in Control in 5 Facets
of Facilitating
2. The Derailer. This person never seems to answer the question youre asking.
You ask the group to open up about their own lives and they begin to talk about
the shortcomings of other Christians. You ask them what they think Jesus was
saying in a certain passage and they share about what the Holy Spirit showed
them in their morning prayer time. A believer who has a lot of Bible knowledge
and likes to share their expertise can also derail things under the radar because
they are talking about scripture.
Again, we need to love this person but we cant let them control the meeting by
taking everybody down their rabbit trails. See all five points under Manage
Personalities in 5 Facets of Facilitating
Posted by Andrew Mason in Facilitating A Meeting, Featured

What does peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper and spaghetti and meatballs have to do with leading a small
group? The same way those ingredients compliment each other is the same way a small group should
compliment the Sunday
. Too much of a good thing is bad for recipes and the body of Christ.
In a typical service there is corporate worship and preaching. People are sitting in rows together but not
interacting much with each other. The potential for fellowship and personal connection is extremely low. This is
sufficient as long as its not the churchs only expression.
In order for small groups to compliment the weekend experience the small group leader needs to see him or
herself as a facilitator when the group meets during the week. Being a facilitator means you need to be thinking
about group process, not individual performance. A facilitator looks to get the group moving and then step
back. They know when to intervene because things are getting off-track and they take responsibility for guiding
the group in a way that synergy is created.
Here are 5 Facets of Facilitating With Finesse
1. Dont teach or preach for the entire time. Its tempting for leaders with outgoing personalities to simply
duplicate a church service when they lead a small group meeting, but its not the path to building community. I
am a preacher by trade, but when I lead a small group I do not do the majority of the speaking, rather, the
group does.
For people who came up in the Lord through adult Sunday school classes this can be an unnatural paradigm
shift. I still know lay leaders to this day who cant quite shake the itch to stand up in the group and talk the
whole time.
In order to be an effective facilitator you have to approach your meetings with the goal of engaging people and
allowing them to contribute to the spiritual formation of the collective whole.
2. Lead With Questions. Instead of a teaching or sermon you should be preparing questions that take your
group through a journey of discovery. I cover this in more detail in Small Group Discussion Questions That
Go Deep.
3. Manage Personalities. Be prepared for people who are not accustomed to the format, meaning, they dont
have a lot of experience with a healthy Bible-based small group. Heres a few tools to keep handy:
Stay In Control: Dont let people take over and derail things. You are responsible for reinforcing the context
of the group discussion. If you have to briefly interrupt someone, its okay. Say something like, John, I love
what youre saying, but I want to give a chance for others to share too. (Note: If you lose control of the
meeting because God is doing something powerful and spontaneous, then forget about everything I just
typed here)
Offer An Explanation Afterwards: If you have an unbeliever or new believer they may disagree or be
confused about a certain principle being discussed. You can always offer to talk to them afterwards in order
to keep the dialogue flowing.
Make An Announcement: If I know there are people present at the small group who can talk for long
periods of time I will say the following, Hey guys, were about to jump in to some group discussion. If you
begin to share tonight, please limit your response to 2-3 minutes so everybody can have a chance to
contribute. This establishes your expectations on the front-end. Hopefully, this will help people to be more
self-aware when they interact in a few moments.
Talk In Private: When all else fails, you might have to pull somebody aside in private and shoot straight
with them in love. Specifically point out to them what they are doing that is counter-productive to the goals
you have for the group meetings.
4. Be Real. As Galatians 6:7 teaches us, you will reap what you sow. As the small group leader, if you sow
seeds of authenticity and transparency by demonstrating it to the group, you will reap a harvest of trust from
them in return. Seriously, works every time.
5. Listen With Compassion. Make sure to pay attention to everything being shared. Listen with your eyes.
Listen with your body language. Listen with your mouth closed. Most importantly, listen with your heart. Great
listeners are great ministers.
In conclusion, being an effective facilitator is all about getting your focus on others. Create a disposition that is
ready to receive people and encourage them in the Lord. The combination of faith-filled corporate gatherings
and small group community is lethal to the kingdom of darkness.
3. The Problem-Fixer. This person gives advice as soon as someone opens up
and shares something theyre struggling with. They usually have good intentions,
but the problem-fixer doesnt realize that theyre sub-consciously trying to make
themselves feel better by giving everyone else the Sunday school answer to their
problems. This can cause people in the group to shut down or create a medieval
small group competition where everyone starts shining up their spiritual armor in
front of each other.
Making an announcement just before you start the group discussion can be a
helpful reminder to everyone to be good listeners. A specific statement about this
in a small group covenant can also be effective. We want small groups to be
settings where people feel heard.

4. The Withdrawn Person. This person is very quiet and rarely responds to your
questions. They use their powers of observation as a safety mechanism. While
there is some wisdom in that approach, the withdrawn person also doesnt
understand the value of their participation and how it will help them grow and
As the host or leader, dont be afraid to call on this person, especially during the
icebreaker or on a safe question that is above the surface in nature. Also, know
that the more you build relationship with the them outside of the meeting, the
more comfortable they will feel responding to you during the meeting.
5. The Wrong-Answer Person. This person may be a new Christian or they dont
know the Bible very well. It can be an awkward moment when a person goes on
and on with a misinterpretation or a personal opinion that isnt biblical.
The key is to let the group know youre not endorsing their view without making
the wrong-answer person feel marginalized. See my point on Offer An Explanation
Afterwards in 5 Facets of Facilitating
6. The Not-Yet Christian. This person is either checking out the Christian faith at
your small group or they got coerced, forced and tricked by another Christian into
coming. Their inexperience in this environment could make them a combination of
any of the attributes previously listed.
If theyre confused about what youre talking about you can always offer a more
detailed explanation afterwards. Building relationship with them outside of the
group meeting will help to lower any potential walls too. You might also consider
giving an opportunity for people to receive Christ towards the end of the group
meeting (I spell this out in detail in Leading A Person To Christ).
By: Medical Jobs
Posted by Andrew Mason in Discipling Group Members

If you notice a person in your small group that might not be right with God, you definitely want to give them an
opportunity to receive Christ. This would be done towards the end of the meeting time as youre closing in
After youve prayed for all of the prayer requests, announce that you are going to give everyone an opportunity
to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. The following is a sample of what you could say:
With every head bowed and every eye closed, I want to give an opportunity for anybody who needs to get
right with God and receive Jesus into their life as their Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ died for your sin and rose
from the grave so you could go to Heaven after this life on earth. If youre not right with God and havent made
Jesus the Lord of your life I want you to repeat this prayer after me. Lets all hold hands and pray this out loud
Lord Jesus, forgive me of my sin and cleanse me of a guilty conscience. I turn from my old way of life and sin,
and ask you to come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior. Thank you for dying for me and rising from the
dead. I want to serve you from this day on and for the rest of my life. Amen.
Now, as were holding hands with our eyes closed, if you prayed that and needed to pray it, I want you to
squeeze the hand of the person next to youPraise God! If you squeezed a hand or felt your hand squeezed,
please let me know after we dismiss. Id love to congratulate you and talk to you about what just happened.
When you talk to those who received Christ, make sure they understand the cross and forgiveness. Make sure
they know that theyre in Christ now and God loves them and wants to help them everyday. Talk to them about
the importance of water baptism, praying, and reading the Bible everyday. If theyve never read the Bible, the
book of John is a great place for them to start. Inform them of the opportunities available for them at your
church to grow and mature in Christ. Last, but not least, let them know if they have any questions or struggles
that you are here for them as a small group leader and they dont have to feel alone.
Are you believing to see people come to know Christ at your next small group meeting?

7. The Listening Contributor. Ahhhh.take a deep breath and then breathe a
sigh of relief because this is someone you dont have to think too hard about. This
is a person who pays attention and listens thoughtfully. Their responses advance
and deepen the dialogue but are concise enough that others can participate too.
First of all, youre probably going to need at least 3 or 4 of these people in your
group for it to have some sustainability (and personal sanity). Secondly, for in-
depth questions or to get a conversation back on its tracks, you may call on them
first when asking a new question. Lastly, if they arent already an assistant leader
you may want to start talking to them about the possibility.
As I mentioned several times, our goal is to love everybody with the love of Christ.
None of these types of people are BAD people. In fact, God is going to use these
people to help you learn about your own flaws, lack of patience and selfishness. If
everyone in your group were a listening contributor, how would that help you grow
in loving people more? As I said before, working with people can be stressful,
frustrating, scary as well as one of the most fulfilling and memorable things you
can do.
Are there other personalities that come to mind as you read this? Got any blending
ideas? Feel free to share them below
Andrew Mason is the Small Groups Pastor of Real Life Church, a family of churches
across the Northern CA region. He oversees Small Groups, Discipleship Ministries
and Assimilation. He is Founder of SmallGroupChurches.com

An online community of leaders dedicated to growing churches one small group at
a time. Andrew resides in Sacramento, CA with his wife Camille and their son.