What is an ideal group?
The ideal group is 4 or 5 couples, with one of these couples leading (that’s you). Couples may be have been married for one year or many, or they may be remarried following the death of or divorce from a partner. Being at a similar stage of relationship / ages can be helpful for sharing (e.g. engaged couples, young marrieds / 30’s & 40’s / older couples & the retired). However those married only a short while will also benefit from the experience of others, so be flexible in the mix of the group.
Is Together suitable for anyone, whatever their faith?
Together doesn’t assume in-depth understanding of the Bible. It is suitable for Christians, (whatever their spiritual maturity) and non-Christians, (providing they are open to the Bible).
When do we meet?
It’s up to you and the group to decide. Invite everyone along for the introductory meeting and ask couples to bring along diaries to fix the dates of all the sessions, if they decide to continue. It is recommended you meet every 2 weeks. Remember people will need adequate space between group meetings to have their Couple Time .
Where do we meet?
The best place is in someone’s home where everyone can sit together because it’s more informal and friendly. Rotating homes works well (but be sensitive if some in your group have very little space – it may be better to stay in one venue but rotate the ‘hospitality’). A church venue or other meeting place is OK as long as there is privacy.
Do we need to have a perfect marriage?
It is not necessary to be married for any particular length of time or have a faultless marriage. However, as a lead couple your marriage should be stable and without any major unresolved issues between you. Good leaders are people who are willing to share their struggles as well as successes in building their marriage.
Do we need Bible knowledge to lead?
You do not need to be an experienced group leader or have in-depth Bible knowledge to lead a group. The Leader’s Guide is designed to give you everything you need.
Are we expected to teach or facilitate?
As the lead couple you are responsible for organising and encouraging your group and facilitating the discussion. Facilitating means that you will be asking the questions in the study and ensuring everyone starts and finishes on time. It doesn’t mean you have to have answers for everything and you are not expected to teach, because the teaching is in the study. Facilitating also means encouraging everyone to participate – not forcing them to answer questions but giving everyone the opportunity to participate.
Do we have to lead as a couple?
It’s up to you to decide who does what. The leader couple might share responsibility for leading the discussion and time-keeping. Whilst one is doing the talking and facilitating, the other keeps an eye on time and helps the leader to ensure that everybody is included in the discussion. Each session is divided into parts so the leading of a session is easily shared. Alternatively one person may do all the leading with the other being the ‘eyes and ears’. Note that session 8 splits into two separate groups of men / women only, so you’ll need two leaders and two guides (or copies of the appropriate pages which you can download from the members area – register free and then log in).
What makes a good leader?
A commitment to your own marriage and a desire to invest in it. This will be an example for others.
A desire to love and encourage people and to have fun as a group.
A willingness to practise hospitality or find somebody who can!
A desire to work together as a couple and being faithful to your own Couple Time discussion.
A desire to let God live in and through you – by his Spirit (Gal 5:22-23).
How do we ensure no-one says anything embarrassing?
There are ground rules which are very important so that everyone feels comfortable -to ensure confidentiality and build trust within the group and to stop people embarrassing their partners. Explain these at the first meeting and remind everyone briefly at other times.
How should we work with our local church?
We encourage you to talk to your church leadership and ask for their support, letting them know what you want to do and whom you want to invite. There may be pastoral issues that you are not aware of. Be aware of any pastoral support the church may be able to give you or members of the group if needed.
Will we have to deal with people’s marriage problems?
When you open up your home and lives to other couples, God can use you in amazing ways. Be prepared for this. From experience few groups will have problems. The group will enable many couples to make a good marriage better. Some couples will find in a group the encouragement, love and guidance that they need to enrich a marriage that is going through tough times and they will flourish. Others may need wise friends and listening ears, as the topics and discussions raise challenging issues that have not been fully addressed in their marriage.
A few couples may have severe problems and you will need to consider prayerfully how to best support them. Some couples with problems may need professional counselling.
How do we deal with any marriage problems?
We suggest the following guidelines:
You should stop individuals talking (in a group) if they are embarrassing their partner.
Should the need arise you can meet with specific couples outside of the group environment to talk and pray.
In many cases the best step is to refer couples to a pastor or a professional counsellor. (Especially in the case of infidelity, alcoholism, substance abuse, physical abuse).
If a couple is struggling then you may seek to meet as two couples. Pray first, listen carefully to each other and trust the Holy Spirit to guide you.
We caution you:
not to be alone when you meet a member of your group who is of the opposite sex.
to keep an out eye for inappropriate friendliness or flirting between individuals in the group… that’s the last thing you want!
Be aware of where to go for counselling support back up in your local community. You may find the following website useful: http://www.2-in-2-1.co.uk/marriageclinic/counselling/
What about prayer?
Prayer is often an important part of a small group. 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, especially given the nature of the group. Here are some guidelines:
As a lead couple we recommend you pray together for your meetings and the couples before and after meetings.
The leader’s notes for each session will indicate an appropriate place for prayer, but only if you think this is right for your group. Be sensitive to any non- Christians in your group.
If you pray during the meeting, make it a short closing prayer. You could ask another couple to close in prayer (but check with them privately before hand).
It is appropriate to encourage each couple to pray with one another following Session 7, where the subject of prayer is covered.
Do we have to have a meal?
It’s a good idea to share a meal together, especially at the first introductory meeting. This helps to break the ice and get to know each other. At the first introductory meeting you might want the evening to be a bit special with candles on the table.
You might also start sessions 1-9 with a meal or at least some refreshments, as this is an important part of relationship building. It can be a simple supper or coffee and biscuits/pudding. (Don’t be too elaborate). We recommend that the lead couple provide refreshments at first and then involve others.
How should we handle childcare?
Groups may handle this differently depending on their needs. You could let everyone be responsible for their own arrangements. Alternatively as a group, hire a ‘sitter’ to watch over the children in one location (ideally, not too close to where the group is meeting).