Pondering a Group Study

We’re in the second week of writing for Meditative Fiction, and I have to say I’m pleased with how things have turned out to this point. The stories are unique, people are creating interesting characters, and the way people are working with the study materials makes me feel like this is actually worth something 1.

We don’t spend a whole lot of time discussing the meditation or the scripture verses for each week. This group doesn’t seem to feel the need for such conversation, and that’s part of how the study was designed. People are trusted to ponder the material in a way which will help them express their interactions through the stories they write. If that means people in the group feel the need to discuss a point for clarity, or to communicate alternate views, then the chat server would bustle. If not, as it seems to be so far with this group, then things would tend to be more quiet. I could run this group again in a month, which I might do, and have a much different experience. I like this type of structure, because it allows group dynamics to form out of the personality of participants—instead of being imposed by the will of the leader 2. In my thinking, this offers more opportunities for discovery, since the group decides on the paths it’s going to take to the next destination.

This all means the studies I structure like this have me functioning a bit like a DM. I wonder what I’d do if a group just decided to say, “You know what, we don’t want to meet here like this 3. We’re going to the a pub for dinner and drinks.” Would I try to throw every possible obstacle in their way, trying to get them back to the path I expected people to take, or would I crumple up my plans and ask, “Who’s buying?”

I mean, we can discuss deep things over a burger and a beer, just as well as we can in a room at the church. Even better, probably.

  1. I don’t know if I’ve ever met a pastor who wasn’t suffering from some bit of imposter syndrome. I think I might be wary of any who didn’t. 
  2. And, that doesn’t really work in a volunteer setting. And in a Baptist volunteer setting, if I didn’t offer folks the freedom to figure out their group dynamics, they’d just ignore me and do it anyway. At least, this way, I feel like I’ve contributed space. 
  3. Or on Zoom, in current circumstances.