Our final session was scheduled to begin at 7pm on Monday night. With this being the final planned and organized session, I don’t expect to have any additional participants show up. My hope is that this session will be productive, and act as a closeout to the progress we’ve made so far. It is also my hope that the group desires to continue meeting together, even if I am not hosting or leading the sessions. Introductory Portion
By 6:50pm, most of the previous participants had all arrived, though we were missing two group members from last week. According to the other participants, they stated that the two missing had decided not to attend, as they didn’t want to see the group come to an end. Since this was a planned group dissolution, as described by Forsyth (2010), that foreknowledge probably played a factor in their decision. In my estimation, they had forgotten the discussion at the end of the previous session, where we talked about the group meeting somewhere else, so that the fellowship could continue growing.
So, as a group, we discussed the future of the group. It was unanimously agreed to continue the group, though the specific details of the meetings began some discussion. They agreed to table the discussion for the evening, so that we could progress through the discussion points required. With that I handed out the discussion points for this week’s session. Group Observations
Again I gave the opportunity to share anything specific regarding changes in their lives, or within the lives of someone they ministered to or worked with. None of the members volunteered any information, so we began with our discussion points. Each of the discussion points garnered some discussion, but there was a clear lack of lively conversation that had been the hallmark of the previous sessions.
This was a sign of the ending stage, as described by Corey, Corey, and Haynes (2006). I am not sure whether this was because it was the final group session, or whether the participants had other things on their minds but were still trying to participate. If they mind was elsewhere, their thought process would be slower in discussing the topics the group was discussing.. Group Dynamics
At this point, I think that the group was in the closing stage, as described by Jacob, Masson, Harvill, and Schimmel (2012). They clearly were more focused on what was next with the group. There were a lot of reflective discussion points brought up, including how they had changed since the start of the group. Group cohesion continued to be good, even though there was a sense of loss that two members decided not to take part in our final session. I think that some members took it personally that those two members didn’t connect completely with the group, nor support its continuance after I ended my leadership.
The biggest challenge going forward is going to be one of commitment. As was noticed with the two members who declined participation in the final group meeting, even after the group collectively agreed that it would be continued in some form or fashion. While they are all busy men, they have taken time out of their busy schedules to make each group session. This shows them that it can be done, if you really desire to do it. It just becomes a matter of whether the members decide that the group is worth attending. Group Leadership
As with the previous sessions, my leadership style was group-directed. I am not comfortable, presently, with trying to direct these theologically superior men with a more forthright approach. I don’t believe that I would gain much from the group by leading in that way. I also don’t believe that it would provide a good service to the men who have given up their time to participate. I am a much better facilitator than forceful leader or director. Conclusion
As I look back over these session, and specifically back over this session, I think great progress has been made. It started out quiet, and progressively more people got involved. Unfortunately there seemed to be a regression of sorts in this final session. It seems as if there was some sadness over the ending of the group sessions, and the potential carrying on of the sessions in a different format/location.
The greatest potential hinderance to this group is consistency, both in the frequency of meetings and participation in those meetings. As well as consistency in discussing challenging topics relevant to the group. It takes time and effort to lead these types of groups, and I don’t know who will step up, or has the time to dedicate, to lead this group. As with all things, I will trust that the Lord has used our time together productively, and will continue to work in the lives of these men (Proverbs 16:4 and Romans 8:28).
References Corey, G., Corey, M., & Haynes, R. (2006). Groups in action - Evolution and challenges. Belmont, CA. Brooke/Cole, Cengage Learning Forsyth, D. (2010). Group dynamics (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing. Jacobs, E.E., Masson, R.L., Harul, R.L., & Schimmel, C.J. (2012). Group counseling strategies and skills. (7th ed.) Belmont,CA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning.
1. How do you determine what needs to be changed, and what effect it’ll have on your life?
2. What are some strategies you can employ in the transition from old to new?
3. What are some ways you can practically change some of your routines (i.e. getting to and from work, ordering something new at your favorite restaurant, doing a new activity outside of work, creative different lunch options)?
4. How would those changes affect those you live or work with?
5. Would you consider signing a contract with yourself (and with a witness) detailing what you need to change, why you need to change it, and the timeframe through which you plan to change?