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Small Group Discussion: Assumptions and Norms

Prepared by John Lee


Following is the summary of the assumptions and norms that will help our small group discussion in a variety of Church meetings. This may be changed in different situations. So it is a suggestion only, not a final answer. I hope it will work as a starting point of our sharing our thoughts and experiences; and will develop into a complete one that we can adjust in our conceret situations.



1.    We all love the church.

2.    We all seek truth and justice.

3.    We are all learners.

4.    We may have different ways of thinking, working and acting.

5.    Other persons also have gifts as I do although they may be different.

6.    Creative tension by presenting different perspective helps the group to be healthier.

7.    Any discussion without different perspective or creative tension has more chance to be one sided.

8.    Confronting oppression/domination will benefit everyone.

9.     All forms of oppression are interconnected and it is not useful to argue about a hierarchy of oppression. (intersectionality)

10.   Fixing blame helps no one.

11.   Expect to learn from mistakes.

12.   Accept the fact of conflict.

13.   We continuously develp by learning and changing.


Guidelines/Group Norms

 1.    Elect group facilitator, writer or reporter as needed.

 2.    Writer must include everyone’s speaking and confirm with the speaker by reading the written summary.

 3.    Reporter should be objective by avoiding reinterpreting others saying.

 4.    Non judgmental – Superiority/inferiority dynamic inherent in all power relations. Doesn’t mean we don’t make ethical judgments.

 5.    Express opinions by using “I” statements.

 6.    Set the time of individual’s speaking, eg., a 90-second speech.

 7.    Take responsibility to share time for speaking and for appropriate silences and listening.

 8.    First time speakers first.

 9.    Make sure everyone has a chance to talk.

10.    Before shifting the topic, facilitator should invite the person who had any chance to  speak or who wants to add more to speak.

11.    For speech, raise your hand to get permission then introduce yourself before    speaking.

12.    Try to make a positive expression all the time although the content is negative.

13.    Consider other's perspective.

14.    We will affirm and support respectful disagreement and presentation of different     points of view.

15.    Avoid controversy.

16.    Non-offensive way of communicating.

17.    Take care of yourself emotionally, physically.

18.    No question is a stupid question.

19.    Keep confidentiality.

20.    Validating everybody’s experience.

21.    Be generous to other’s mistakes.




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