Your group agreement will not be proven. Circumstances change. Groups change. While you would always include things like confidentiality and shared responsibility, your day of meeting, place, time, study and so on will change over time. Group agreements should be reviewed at least once a year to ensure that it still works for everyone. And don`t forget that newcomers or infirmities didn`t agree, so take the time to explain and ask for their consent to the agreement (you can always do it in one break). If you want to change it, you have a discussion with the whole group until everyone agrees. There are many ways to create group agreements. To decide to use them, you can consider some of the following: whether the group will work together in the longer term, what is the controversy over the topic of the meeting or workshop, how long you have and how much confidence the group has in you as a mediator.
Keep the agreement for use in future meetings or workshops with the same group, but register each time to make sure everyone is always satisfied. You can, for example, add something to the agreement. The formation of a group agreement should not be a long or eventful process. In a relaxed atmosphere, you can simply bring all the ideas to the table. Decide together the values of the group. What is important to members? When and where does the band meet? How will the group provide child care if it does? What`s the band going to study? How are the studies selected? How will the band spend their time together? Some people are hesitant to join groups because they are afraid of being asked to do something they simply don`t feel comfortable with. Do they have to pray out loud? Do they have to read? What if they don`t read very well? The group agreement helps them understand whether these things are voluntary or mandatory. A group agreement places all members on a level playing field. You know what is acceptable and what is abound. For fundamental but important points, such as when the meeting starts at the beginning and the end, the group knows what to count on.
When members have to go back to work or put children to bed one night of school, they will know when it is acceptable to leave. Most importantly, the group agreement ensures things like confidentiality. What is said in the group remains in the group. Broken trust and gossip are group killers. If the band has a party, what will they drink or not drink? If your group doesn`t know if one of its members is being served, it`s important entertainment. Each person in your group has different expectations of your group, whether they recognize it or not. Some people were in a group before and yearn for the good old days of comfortable Koinonia. Others were oversold as a group: “You`re going to make your new best friend.” Whatever the reason they joined or what they expect, the key to the success of group life is a well-discussed and well formulated group agreement. For groups working together over a long period of time, it may be worth spending a little more time developing a longer-term group agreement. You can use a process like the one described below. Although the time of a group agreement sometimes seems a little frustrating, you gain that time later.
This makes your event much more fluid. Used with permission: “© 2011, Allen White. All rights reserved. Originally published on www.allenwhite.org. Allen White is Adult Discipleship Pastor at Brookwood Church, Simpsonville, SC and the South Carolina Point of State person for the Southwest Group Network. Brookwood Church has two-thirds of the average number of participants in small groups.