Giving and receiving feedback are important skills for everyone to have, particularly those who are in leadership positions. Without feedback, leaders can become complacent and make decisions that benefit them but neglect the needs of those that they lead.
When leaders don’t prioritize giving and receiving feedback, they can far too easily make assumptions about how others are perceiving their actions and decisions. This lack of consideration may be unintentional, but it can result in a difficult environment for members of the community.
Biblical Examples of Godly Feedback
Feedback may be either positive or negative and there are many examples of both being given in the New Testament.
Paul’s letters to the various churches are clear examples, as they instruct believers in how to give and receive feedback. In these letters, the affirmation of God-honoring behaviors is just as important as the warnings, critiques, rebukes that are handed out.
So, how do we apply this within Small Groups today? Well, you may seek feedback only to find out that group members are very happy with how things are going. Great! In this instance, you should be encouraged by the work God is doing within their groups and praise him for that!
Yet, all leaders have room for growth, and there will be times that group members provide more critical feedback. As a leader, this feedback also warrants praise. It provides an opportunity for leaders to grow so that they may better serve their group.
How to Solicit Group Feedback
When seeking feedback, it is important to consider both the type feedback being sought as well as how it will be provided. It may be ideal to start acquiring feedback by allowing the group to generally discuss how things have been going.
However, it is also important to seek more specific feedback. Some examples of targeted questions include:
- What habits does our group have that foster a gospel-centered community?
- Does our group have any habits that don’t foster gospel-centered community?
- Do you feel comfortable providing feedback to me, your group leader?
- Which form of providing feedback do you find most helpful (e.g. email, survey, group discussion)?
- Does the current group structure (i.e. meeting time, date, location, etc.) meet the group’s needs?
When & How to Solicit Individual Feedback
There are also scenarios where speaking with your group members one-on-one may be more appropriate.
If you have been walking with a member of your group through a specific struggle, you may seek feedback from them regarding their progress and how the Small Group has contributed to (or detracted from) their spiritual growth. It’s important to understand if the person you’re ministering to is receiving the support from you that they hoped to receive.
While situations like this may be hard to address in a group setting, the individual may be more likely to speak up when in a one-on-one situation.
This is similarly true if you have one or more group members who have been consistently absent or disengaged from the group. It’s important to contact those individuals directly to understand if there’s anything you can do as a leader to help improve their attendance or engagement at Small Group meetings.
The Benefit of Giving & Receiving Feedback
Allowing members of a Small Group to provide input about how the group operates shows that you, as the leader, understand that Small Group is not a “one size fits all” community.
As you seek to lead well, understand that there will be times when you are unable to act on the feedback given or when the feedback is not in the best interest of the group. This is when you must use your best discernment and lead with love.
As a group leader, you should feel empowered to make decisions that you believe are in the best interest of the group. If those decisions are rooted in wisdom and humility; if they are obtained through prayer, study of the Word, and the consultation of a Small Group Coach, you will continue growing in your capacity to lead your group well.