In core value number six, we include the need for a guided process in our groups. While we do not exclusively mean the written curriculum, it is an important part of how we gain structure for each of our groups. With a variety of topics and different curriculum there is no one size fits all solution for how to use curriculum in group. It is the job of the group leader to use their groups curriculum to the benefit of the group that they are leading.
It is important to remember that the curriculum is a tool that is meant to be utilized by group leaders and their participants. While the curriculum is designed to give a thorough and useful understanding of its topic, as with any tool, it is only as effective as person using the curriculum. For this reason, it is imperative that each leader be intimately familiar with their curriculum. This expectation means that leaders should:
- Read the Curriculum:
Leaders are looked to as a source of wisdom and knowledge in the context of their group. For that reason, it is important that they be familiar with the curriculum. The first step in being familiar with the curriculum is having read the curriculum in its entirety. These packets are dense, and often emotionally taxing if it pertains to an area of personal struggle; therefore, you do not need to read them all in one sitting, but you should always be substantially ahead of the group in the material and your understanding of it. In addition to reading the curriculum, it would be a good idea to listen to the podcast version, watch the videos on http://www.BradHambrick.com, or attend the live counseling seminar to get the overall view of the curriculum.
As you read the curriculum be sure to make notes of things you view as important or potentially pertinent for members so that you can mention it specifically as you work through it together in group. This will help you redirect the group or ask better questions in the moment.
- Understand the Curriculum
These are dense packets that cover emotionally heavy topics and should be given the time they deserve to be understood beyond mere reading comprehension. Take time each week to work through the curriculum so that you are well versed in the specific section that will be covered in group. Having a deeper understanding of the curriculum will push your group members to see things with a new perspective than perhaps they have had before.
You do not need to be an expert on every topic that is discussed within the curriculum, but you should at least be familiar with the topics covered. As you lead the group participants will ask you questions, particularly as it pertains the curriculum and you should be able to at least have an informed opinion.
- Facilitate the Curriculum
As a leader, you are meant to lead the discussions. Each group approaches the curriculum and its use in groups slightly differently based on the composition of the group. Leaders have the freedom to use the curriculum in a way that seems most appropriate for their group as long as they are in fact using the curriculum. Our desire at G4 is that the curriculum would be used to stimulate helpful conversation that would lead individuals to growth and change. Helpful conversations should: (a) increase self-awareness of the participant, (b) grow the participants resiliency to be honest about their struggle, (c) garner a multitude of applications for the participants, or (d) cultivate problem-solving skills for the various forms their struggle can take.
For leaders using the curriculum, it should not simply be that leaders would read and discuss the merit of the curriculum but dive deeper into the application of the material. The goal for many of our groups is to help participants understand how take truth and apply it to their specific lives and circumstances; therefore, we must be able to help them fit the curriculum into their context.