Dealing with ‘Challenging’ People in a Housegroup

Again, thank you to Winchester Vinyard for this advice.

“Before long you will come up against housegroup members who, without meaning to, post a difficulty either to the group or to your leadership. It is important to know how to handle these people/situations. Listed below are some characters you might recognise. These people need careful handling to prevent other housegroup members being hurt or confused. These types could also pose a threat to the confidence of a new housegroup leader.”

“As you can see from the following types, you will see that you can probably deal with these people by using confrontation as a last resort. Most of these types cause trouble because they are insecure and want recognition.”

The SuperSpiritual Brother or Sister

Recognisable by:

  • Usually makes their entry via scripture, especially quoting from the minor prophets, etc.
  • God uses them that way
  • Frequently ‘headbuts’ the leader with an attitude of condemnation
  • Infers “I’m OK and you are not”.

Effect that this has on the group

  • It shuts everyone else out, especially young Christians
  • Disrupts the group
  • Causes other members to feel insecure

What do they need?

  • They need to maintain control. They frequently hide their poor communication in super spirituality
  • They find it very difficult to relate to ‘I’m OK you’re OK’. They need status based on past credentials – “Four years ago I…”
  • In fact their fear of rejection is amazingly high. They are possibly feeling “I’m not OK but you are OK”

How do we handle?

  • Try not to reinforce their point of view
  • Ask them questions
  • Talk to them afterwards
  • Clarify the purpose of housegroup (not necessarily to show off all they know)
  • Give them something to do.

The StoryTeller

Recognisable by:

  • Constantly relating Holy Ghost House Group stories
  • Name dropping – credentialiser
  • Loves inside information
  • Hogs everything

Effect that this has on the group

  • People get bored
  • It can kill a group
  • The plan for the group goes out of the window because of lost time

What do they need?

  • They are usually looking for a position in the group while maintaining distance
  • They usually have learnt inappropriate ways of relating to others.
  • They too have a fear of being rejected.

How do we handle?

  • Ask him/her for current stories.
  • Ask other members of the group for stories.
  • You may have to confront this person.

The ‘Poor Me’ Type

Recognisable by:

  • Unhealthy need to ‘bleed or vomit’ over the whole group! Remember the earlier advice not to LABEL too soon though.
  • Their game is to maintain the focus on themselves
  • They have a problem God can’t solve.
  • They say “Yes but…” (=No) in response to ministry or counsel.

Effect that this has on the group

  • This person focuses the attention of the group on themselves.
  • Their “Yes but” lowers faith levels and causes confusion.

What do they need?

  • Poor Mes are looking for emotional security.
  • They normally need to change but do not want to.
  • They may be demonised

How do we handle?

  • Protect the group. Explain to your church leaders what is happening so that they understand that you’re not being unkind. You may need to speak to the member, and you may need to enlist the help of church leaders.
  • Do not let them be the focus of attention. If necessary cut short and bring attention back to the course.
  • Do not get hooked on ‘Yes but’ and remember you are responsible to them and not for them.
  • They may need gentle confronting.

What do you think? Have you come across these or other types, and have helpful hints as to ensure that we all get the best out of housegroups? Do you disagree with any of this advice?

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