Guidelines for Leaders
We recommend leaders prepare one week in advance. It is essential to reflect on the Gospel passage several days in advance — no matter how familiar it is! Prepare an introduction even if only a sentence or two (Our weekly Reflections provide an introductory opener and a closing finale should they be useful to read to the group). If you would like a few extra ideas about preparation read our paper, A Group Leader’s Preparation.
If there are newcomers it would help them if the leader gave a very short introduction about the sequence of stages during your group reflection, and relevant procedures or, if appropriate, rules.
They may appreciate a copy of our leaflet:
If a separate introductory meeting can be arranged it would be helpful to include an explanation of the Seven R’s of Lectio Divina, namely:
1. Reverence 2. Recollect — Preparation
3. Read 4. Reflect 5. Respond — Phase One:
AND IF PHASE 2 IS TO FOLLOW
6. Remember 7. Rest. — Phase Two:
“Daily Meditation In the Word″
Leading (Phase 1)
1. We recommend leaders commence with an opening prayer that groups (individuals) may find personal stillness or quiet rest during your time together. Adding a well known prayer can also be very beneficial.
2. When it is time to start Lectio, read the chosen passage aloud and then re-read silently (reverse order if preferred).
3. A brief lead into the scene of the text, can help the group to come on board quickly and participate.
4. Choose an appropriate approach and guide the group through the text:
• Remind the group, as necessary, that we reflect in order to listen to the Living Word which draws us beyond the words of our text.
• Walk through verse by verse, or idea by idea (don’t keep to verses). The Reflection notes are for your use if they help.
Note: Do not feel you have to give equal attention to each verse or idea.
• You could open up the passage by asking the very basic questions, such as:
― who is present?
― why are they there?
― what is happening? And so on.
• Remind the group to hold in the back of the mind any aspect of the account which draws their attention. They can come back to these later as an aid to meditation.
5. If appropriate summarise and review the passage, section by section, especially for longer readings. You could use a prepared key question to facilitate reflection in each major section.
6. We strongly recommend you adhere (strictly) to the rule ‘Do not cross reference other scripture’ unless it is an integral part of what Jesus is saying or meaning. This prevents inappropriate interruption by displays of Scripture by those who excel in their extensive Bible knowledge. It also maintains the focus and avoids the distraction of thoughts ‘zapping’ all over the place. It will help the group to maintain focus on the text, that is, focus on the Word.
Some Further Suggestions
• Avoid treating the group as a school class, e.g. “And Mary…What do you think…?” or “Charles, we haven’t heard from you. What…?”
• Ask questions and accept answers graciously
• Avoid focussing on wrong answers but use them to move closer to the content of the reading.
• Don’t allow interruption of slow or quiet speakers, by others.
• If something interrupts the flow of the Lectio, lead with another prepared question, so as to maintain direction.
• Allow all relevant contributions.
• Do not allow questions about peripherals to take time or change the focus.
Do not make the fatal mistake some modern reformers of worship have made, thinking everyone must participate or be involved in the same way at the same level at the same time. In any group but particularly in prayer-focused groups, there will be several modes and levels of involvement. Sometimes the quietest person may make the most critical contribution whether by presence alone or a gesture at a key moment, or asking a pertinent question which takes the group discussion to a new level… or whatever.
Please remember this is a group oral meditation, not a Bible Study. Leaders who feel the need to cram with advanced knowledge should look to other gatherings where it is more appropriate.
Closing Phase One
• When it is time to draw the Reflection to a close you could offer your own summary of the text, or of key ideas the group have raised; or you could read out either the Conclusion from the printed set of Reflections for the week. Another idea would be to read one of the meditation points under The Gospel To Every Creature which always follows the Reflections.
• At this point it is time to invite the group to spend a moment in quiet response to all that has gone before. It is time to settle down and if circumstance permit, to move into Phase Two. A very short piece of music could signal the end of Responding.
If this is the end of the meeting, the leader could invite all to recite the Lord’s Prayer followed by a blessing of the same kind.
If the group are continuing to go into Phase Two, delay the closing prayer(s) until the end of the quiet time.
These guidelines are offered especially for those leaders who have had little experience in this kind of activity. You will soon develop your own style and find what works best.