Whether it’s a Sunday School Class, a Bible study, a Life Group/Small Group, or even a recovery meeting, one group member poses a unique set of obstacles: The Oversharer.
You know who I’m talking about. People who, with good intentions and a genuine heart, share too much information too soon in a group setting. Within ten minutes of entering a group, they’ve told both their life story and current crises. It makes for awkward dynamics in the room and a collective wondering among most: “who will address this?”
And usually, no one does. Many church folk are conflict-averse (he writes, raising his hand) and hope beyond hope that the situation will resolve itself. Which almost never happens.
So what do you do if you’re the small group/life group leader?
During the session: Deflect. As group leader, you can kindly but firmly say, “Well, there’s a lot on your mind. I wonder what others have to say about the lesson we’re studying? That gets your group back on track with the content and empowers Undersharers to speak.
After the session: Address. Do not wait. Do not hope it resolves. Address it kindly but firmly: “It’s so great that you’re in our group. You gave us a lot to process tonight with all you shared. When we meet next, I want to make sure that everyone has a chance to speak and that we build trust a little more slowly here.”
Beyond the session: Refer. I firmly believe that many Oversharers want a LifeGroup to serve a role it is ill-equipped to do: provide personal therapy. A hard but true reality is that some people need intense therapy alongside (if not before) small group life. There is no shame in telling a hurting person that while a LifeGroup can provide biblical wisdom and prevailing prayer, some issues need additional, professional help.
Ultimately, you will want to help the Oversharer grow in self-awareness and establish the kind of boundaries that allow all in the group to contribute.
Especially if the Oversharer you know best is the one you see in the mirror.
Is your Life Group or Small Group getting ready to launch a new study?
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