In small group ministry, there are people in the group that may dominate the conversation trying to get everyone focused on their problems. We refer to these individuals as EGR’s or “Extra Grace Required” people.
Facilitating sharing in a group may entail quieting the compulsive talker and bringing the silent person into the discussion. The first step in quieting the person who over-talks is to stop encouraging their behavior. This can be done by breaking eye contact with them and by not nodding your head. Eye contact and nodding the head encourages them to keep talking. If this does not work, the next step is to divert the conversation away from the person by means of a question or statement like: “Perhaps someone else would like to share what they have discovered about this” or “While we are on this point, let’s hear from some of the others.” “Can we save your other points until later?” or “You’ve raised a number of interesting points which should keep us busy a good while. Would anyone else like to comment on them?” If all your “hints” are not successful, you may need to speak with the person privately.
The “Extra Grace Required” (EGR) person needs to know that you love them, but that you will not accept their behavior. Encourage them to sit back and listen to others for a few sessions. You may need to have further discussions with this individual outside the framework of the group or refer them to one of the pastors or a counselor.
Jesus had compassion on all people and took the time to love and accept them. We should do the same outside the setting of the small group; however, we must use our time wisely during the group sessions so that everyone will have an opportunity to share about their struggles. Remember, you are the facilitator guiding the group.
Managing the EGR is easier when we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our conversations with this individual. Hopefully your EGR people will learn to depend on God and develop self-control.Excerpts from Small Group Skills Guide Living Free.