A few days ago, I (Rich) shared my thoughts and experiences with you on how NOT to lead a huddle. I thought it best to follow that up with a few guidelines of how to do huddle WELL. As I said last time, we have found huddle to be a vital part of growing an effective movement of mission and discipleship across our city, and with others across the world. For this reason, we are passionate about training others in leading out this same process wherever they are. (For more information on huddles and how we can help you grow them, connect with us at 3dmuk.com).
There are essentially two keys to leading a good huddle:
The first is the skill of effectively getting people to reflect on their kairos moments and take them round the learning circle, using an appropriate balance of invitation and challenge.
The second is to do this alongside listening to the Holy Spirit to discern what God is saying & doing.
These are both things that can be learnt and developed over time – with some people finding one element naturally easier than the other.
Both of these, and the huddle itself, are designed to empower people to hear and know what God’s word is to them – both through the Bible & the Holy Spirit – and become someone who puts this into practice in their own life. Our belief is that the most fruitful disciples are also the most fruitful leaders.
Huddles are a great tool to disciple key leaders in both character (internal) and competency (external) using the model of Jesus. In some of my recent huddles I have see people win internal breakthrough in dealing with fears, growing in their God-given identity, knowing how to live in a state of peace amongst the raging storms of leadership… and external breakthrough in leading teams well, conflict resolution, casting vision and shaping strategy.
In all of these things, the framework for processing remains the same: A good huddle is about taking people round the circle and, in time, empowering them to be able to do it themselves. My aim is always to develop a participant’s character & competency in the model of Jesus so that after 9-15 months they could lead their own huddle – not everyone will get there but I start with this end in mind!
So here are some practical tips based on my learning and things that I have found helpful over the years.
Seeing through the right lens
Asking God to give us the right lens is a really important principle when leading huddles. When participants are talking I’m thinking through these questions to help look through the right lens:
- What’s at the root of the issue? Is this a covenant or kingdom issue? Is there an internal breakthrough that needs to be won (ie something to do with heart, identity, brokenness) or an external breakthrough (circumstances, leadership, behaviour) they need to see?
- Are there particular scriptures to meditate, digest and reflect on in regard to the key kairos/question which will enable the participant to think differently through God’s truth?
- Is there a particular Lifeshape (pattern of Jesus) that connects with the issues being discussed?
- Is this a “one-off” situation or a repeating pattern in an individual?
Before the Huddle
Take time to pray and plan before the huddle. Ask God for wisdom for individuals, reflect on scripture and listen to the spirit. Look over the notes from the previous huddle about what was discussed, and what plans were made.
In the Huddle
- Pray and invite God to speak – and listen to Him!
- Identify a key question for everyone. Give everyone a couple of minutes to share. This not only actively involves everyone in the huddle by asking them all to share but also helps you as the leader to be able to identify any patterns.
- Look for the common threads or themes so that everyone can learn & engage as much as possible.
- Take participants round the whole learning circle. Make sure that people have moved from discuss to plan. The plan doesn’t need to be fully formed but some rough idea of what they are going to do. This stops it merely being a discussion group with no action or movement forward. It is then important that you follow up during the intervening time and at the next huddle on progress (and then process progression or the lack of it!)
- Create space & give permission for participants to help each other. BUT also remember that a huddle isn’t a “free for all”. It’s a structured discussion that you, as a leader, shape. Over time participants will grow in confidence and competency (of being able to understand and live out the learning circle) so they can more effectively help each other as peers
- Be willing to balance spontaneous with structured . Have a plan but be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. What is HE highlighting or wanting to reveal, or bring change in.
- Be vulnerable, but not ALL the time. Ask yourself the question: “do I have a personal story/experience to share that will be a blessing to this person as they process their own life?”. Modelling vulnerability gives others permission to follow your lead. Share your own kairos and learning circle process if you think it’s appropriate.
- Show honour. Honour the time commitments and the dates that are set. Honour each individual and the set topics for huddle. Honour your word- do what you say you’ll do.
After the Huddle
Look for ways to connect outside of huddle, although this shouldn’t revolve around the leader. Encourage participants to connect with each other via facebook, texts, email, to increase encouragement and accountability.
In the follow-up huddle
Make sure there’s follow-up and accountability from the previous huddle. Have they done what you asked them to do last time? Have they acted on the plans they’ve made? This sets a culture of accountability and expectation that there’ll be follow-up from the previous week.
A final thought
Huddle is just part of the way in which we as leaders invite others into a journey of committed, life-on-life discipleship. Everything about your huddle should reflect this; in the way that you prepare, lead and follow up afterwards. It’s important not to see huddle purely as an event in the diary, but rather part of your ongoing shared life with those you are discipling.