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Forming a women's book group

Our Soup and Security group didn't seem to get off to a running start. Can you talk about the best way to start this group and how to keep it on track?

Robin's Response

Thank you for your heart to have a successful Soup and Security group! Here are a few thoughts and guidelines that I’ve found to work in the two groups that I’ve led.

Meeting Time – I have my groups right after church on Sunday. I know of churches doing them on their family group nights (every other week). An evening slot or Saturday morning slot could work as well.

Size of Group – Size is flexible. I know of a group in Malaysia that started with 2 people. I’ve had as many as 16 at one of my groups. And I know of one church who did a modified “Soup and Security” with their whole women’s ministry at Wednesday evening services.

Length – Keep the groups short: 30 minutes for people to arrive, get refreshments (or soup), and get settled. Then keep the discussion to 60 minutes, ending on time.

Guidelines – Open with a prayer and remind them of the group guidelines. The guidelines I suggest are:

• After someone shares (unless they specifically ask for input), the only appropriate response is "Thank you for sharing."
• Grieving is an important part of the healing process. If someone starts to cry, please don’t rush in to comfort. (And we always have a box of tissues handy!)
• Please keep your sharing largely about yourself.
• So that everyone gets time to share, please get to the point and keep it short.

Format – There are several different formats that you may consider:
a) One chapter a week – Everyone reads the assigned chapter before they come. The leader then chooses excerpts and study guide questions that they read together and discuss.
b) A half of a chapter a week – Read the entire book aloud and discuss.
c) Shared leadership – One of the members (chosen in advance) opens by reading an excerpt and responding. Then everyone joins in a discussion.

A few thoughts for group facilitators:
• Be the first to share, opening up about something recent and relevant.
• When appropriate, be sure to find the humor in your own insecurity. You’ll find that that your group laughs and cries together–a powerful mix!
• If the group gets off track, gently interrupt and redirect.
• Look for ways to direct the group back to God. It's important that people not only get to be vulnerable with their insecurity, but leave feeling hopeful.
• Encourage your group members how much they are needed in the group. A simple, “Will I see you there?” can make a big difference.

I’d love to hear about your Soup and Security group at


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