You are not a robot! Sometimes we believe the lie that there’s only one way to connect with Jesus. We’re supposed to love being around people and music and quiet Bible study. But, the truth is, God didn’t create an army of robots- he created individuals; and not one person is like another. That means because of everyone’s backgrounds, personality, giftings, and passions, we’re all going to relate to and connect with Jesus differently. Understanding these differences are very important as a follower of Jesus and as a group leader. A few years ago, Bill Hybels adapted Gary Thomas’ book “Sacred Pathways”. The books talks about the different ways, or Pathways, people take to connect with God. Take a look at the list below to see if there’s a pathway that you especially connect to. If so, try it out and make that pathway a consistent part of spending time with God. Feel the freedom to change the way you connect in a radical way.
Now, once we understand which pathway we lean towards, it’s important for us to understand how it affects how we lead groups. Because who you are as a leader affects how you lead. If you connect to Jesus best through the Intellectual Pathway, you’ll tend to lead group through that view. You may devalue dinner, unless it fosters deeper discussion about Jesus. You may not like group games because they’re not “spiritual.” You’ll tend to teach more during discussion and come very well prepared.
Those are fine, but it’s important to understand that your way of connecting with Jesus isn’t the only way or the best way. For those in the Relational Pathway, dinner isn’t just a nice exercise. As they connect with others over a meal- they’re connecting with Jesus Himself- that’s important. Groups work best when people’s differences are valued. The better you can engage the different pathways in group, the better your group will connect with you, with each other, and with Jesus.
I’ll give you an example in the realm of different personalities. I tend to think out loud. Ask me a question and I’ll start talking about it- I may have no idea what I’m talking about- but I’ll start talking. Sometimes I don’t even know what I think until I say it out loud. So, this affects how I lead groups. I’ll ask deep questions and expect that everyone can just start talking out loud about them. But, in a few groups I’ve recently led, I’ve come to understand that’s not the case. Some people need to process ideas before they talk about them. To compensate for this, I’ve tried to let people know what we’re talking about ahead of time so they can begin to think about it. Sometimes I’ve even let them know the questions we’ll be going over. When we read scripture, I might give people a few minutes to think about the text before we talk out loud. Remembering this has helped people with different personalities than mine to connect with group.
- If you give homework, try to give different options, taking into account different people connect to God differently.
- Change up how you lead group each week. Some weeks, break people up into groups of 2-3 to discuss a passage of the Bible before talking about it together. Another week, have a few computers available, and have people do some research on a particular Theological idea. The week after that, have people read the passage quietly to themselves, answer some questions quietly, and then share outloud. Find a week to go out and “do” something based on what you’re talking about. There’s all kinds of ideas you can do.
- Don’t “blow past” or minimize the parts of group you like the least. Dinner or snack time will be important for those in the relational pathway. Reading the scripture and asking questions will be important for those in the Intellectual Pathway. Praying at the end will be helpful for the Relational Pathway and also the Contemplative Pathway.
– How does your Pathway affect how you lead your group?
– If you lead a group right now, can you identify which pathways the people in your group lean towards?
– Are there any other differences between people in your group that you can value instead of minimize?