Before you begin each session, agree as a couple how much you will communicate about your own marriage. Sharing openly will help others apply biblical truths to their own lives. Study the leader’s notes and pray regularly for your group.
Also, discuss as a couple your leadership responsibilities for each session. It is also important to practice hospitality. Making friends is a key to creating an environment in which God will change lives.
In our impersonal world, many couples are hungry for friendships. God will use your relationships in an atmosphere of mild accountability to encourage couples to apply the lessons to their lives.
Share the following ground rules at the beginning of the first session, and review them as needed:
• Share nothing that will embarrass your spouse.
• You may pass on any question.
• Anything shared in the group stays in the group.
• Couples should complete the HomeBuilders project between each session.
Simply read through the questions to lead the study. At first, you may need to wait for answers. Don’t jump in too quickly with your own ideas. Naturally, couples will wait for you to answer, and by doing so, you will end up teaching the material without their input. Ideas you can solicit from the group will mean more to the participants than those you teach. When discussion lasts too long or gets off the subject, just read the next question to stay on track.
Warm-Up (5–10 minutes)
The purpose of Warm-Up is to help people unwind from a busy day and get to know each other better. The questions also lead them toward the topic of that session.
Blueprints (45 minutes)
This is the heart of the study. In this time, people answer pertinent questions related to the topic of study and look to God’s Word for understanding.
HomeBuilders Project (60 minutes)
This is the unique application step in a HomeBuilders study. Before your meeting ends, couples are encouraged to Make a Date to complete this project with their spouse before the next meeting. Encourage couples to make this a priority—it will make the HomeBuilders experience twice as effective.
1. Keep the focus on what Scripture says. When someone disagrees with Scripture, affirm them for wrestling with the issue and point out that some biblical statements are hard to understand or accept. Encourage them to keep an open mind on the issue at least through the remainder of the sessions.
2. Avoid labeling an answer as “wrong”; doing so can kill the atmosphere for discussion. Encourage a person who gives a wrong or incomplete answer to look again at the question or the scripture being explored. Offer a comment such as, “That’s really close” or “There’s something else we need to see there.” Or ask others in the group to respond.
3. Your best resource for communicating with others is your own life and marriage. Be prepared to get the discussion going by sharing things from your own lives. But as a couple, be sure you agree beforehand about the issues and experiences you will share.
4. One thing to watch is the possibility of people in the group using the discussion as an opportunity to focus too much on their perceived shortcomings of the military. Though many questions call for couples to discuss the pressures they face in marriage because of the military lifestyle, encourage them to avoid getting sidetracked into “military bashing.”
5. Take time during each session to encourage couples to work on the HomeBuilders project before you meet again. These projects are a vital part of the HomeBuilders experience.
An important part of a small group is prayer. However, as the leader you need to be sensitive to the level of comfort the people in your group have toward praying in front of others.
Never call on people to pray aloud if you don’t know if they are comfortable doing this. There are a number of creative approaches you can take, such as modeling prayer yourself, calling for volunteers, and letting people state their prayers in the form of finishing a sentence. A tool that is helpful in a group is a prayer list. You should lead the prayer time, but allow another couple in the group the opportunity to create, update, and distribute prayer lists as a ministry to the group.
Many groups choose to have refreshments because they help create an environment of fellowship. Here are a couple of suggestions:
• For the first session you should provide the refreshments and then allow the group to be involved by having a signup sheet.
• Consider starting your group with a short time of informal fellowship and refreshments (fifteen minutes), then move into the study. This way if a couple is late, they only miss the food and don’t disrupt the study.
As you lead, look for potential leaders who might multiply your group into new groups. Someone may even express interest in leading. Here are a few pointers to help you build new leaders:
• Look for others who demonstrate availability, teachability, and faithfulness.
• Select a couple in your group who demonstrates maturity in their Christian walk and marriage, and whom you feel would be good discussion leaders.
• Invite them to try out the leadership role by asking one or two questions, by leading part of the session, and then leading an entire session by the end of the study.
• Challenge them to start a group after the current study is completed.
In the back of each HomeBuilders study there is a set of “Leader’s Notes and Tips,” additional notes about various Blueprints questions and possible answers. They are there to help you if you get stuck. These notes are aggregated by session and the numbers correspond to the Blueprints question numbers.
• Notes are not included for every question.
• Most questions are designed to help you make sure group members understand the correct scriptural principles.
• Many of the questions in the studies are designed to have group members draw from their own opinions and experiences.
• If you share any of these points, be sure to do so in a manner that does not stifle discussion by making you the authority with the final answers. Begin your comments by saying things like, “One thing I notice in this passage is ... ” or “I think another reason for this is ....”
Thank you for your interest in leading HomeBuilders! We assure you that the experience will bless you richly as you lead others through discovering God’s blueprints for their marriage.
Serving with you,
The Family Ministry Team
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