We love to start with groups of people the majority of whom do not yet know Jesus. Right from the start we have them talking about what God is doing in their lives (a concept know as prevenience–God is at work in the heart of the unbeliever before they know him) and praying, and we encourage them to listen to what God might be saying to them. I have never known any unbeliever to have a problem with this, and if they are encouraged to do this before they become believers, it is never a problem later on.
In the past few months I have come across some ideas for working with new groups by David Watson that facilitate this. He asks each person in the group to share:
- What has gone well lately that gave you joy?
- What has caused you, or someone you know, stress lately?
As people share, it is easy to move from the first question into saying, "Let's praise God for this," or "Let's talk to God about this situation."
You may ask, "Is this following the Holy Spirit?" If someone brings up a problem, do you think God wants to deal with it? Of course he does. And it is easy to ask people to give any impressions they think God may be giving them as they pray about the situation too.