Up to this point, you might be saying to yourself, “Apart from keeping track of everyone, there’s not much for me to do as a trainer…” which is understandable. Much of what people associate with education is provided in the video lessons and quizzes themselves. But Thirdmill has always highly valued the face-to-face interaction that comes in discussion groups, and this is where you come in. With each module, we’ve included Discussion Guides that you will use to lead the conversation with your group each week regarding the lessons the students have just covered. And make no mistake, it is in these conversations where students will really solidify the concepts from the lessons in their thinking and gain what they need to apply them to ministry and their relationship with God.
Each Discussion Guide contains two elements: Discussion Questions on the first page and a Case Study with a review statement and questions on the second page. As the trainer, you have full freedom to use whatever components from the Discussion Guide you would like to facilitate the discussion, which should last about one hour to an hour and a half. This can vary depending on needs, cultural context, and group size. Some weeks you might use one discussion question and the case study. Some weeks you might use a few discussion questions and that’s it. And some weeks you might use everything. The purpose of these guides is to provide you, as the trainer, a tool to facilitate good, healthy, robust conversation among your group members as they seek to better understand the concepts from the lesson. However you choose to utilize the Discussion Guides, make sure your students know that they are expected to have thought through and answered all of the discussion questions on the first page and should be ready to discuss them. In addition, it may be beneficial if they have read through the case study and are prepared to talk about it. It is not necessary that they have answered the questions on the case study prior to your group meeting as those are intended to be discussed together as a group.
One other note on group discussion, your role as the trainer includes the responsibility to make sure everyone in your group participates adequately. Some people talk more. Some people talk less. But if you find that one person dominates the conversation in such a way that others aren’t able to express their thoughts clearly or often enough, you need to find the most culturally appropriate way to correct that. At the same time, if many people in your group are naturally inclined to remain quiet and let others do the talking, it is up to you to give them the encouragement and freedom to share their thoughts with the group.