When I first started our MOPS group 13 years ago we started with just 6 mums from our church. A natural outworking of these small numbers meant that we stayed together as one group to share our thoughts on the Mentor topic of the morning.
We sat in a circle and talked and laughed and shared. So it continued for many months. It was wonderful. We all got to know each other more deeply and enjoyed one another’s company thoroughly.
As time went by more mums began to attend our MOPS group. Praise God! Some of these new mums came from other churches and some were non Christian mums from our local community. Rather than stray from what we knew, we continued to meet in a circle, this growing to become 20 women often with prams behind or beside them. The logistics were ridiculous! I had trouble keeping eye contact with everyone in this massive circle as I gave my Mentor talk. Of course, only the more outgoing mums shared in the discussion time.
Finally we woke up to the need for change and from the very first morning when we split up for discussion groups I noticed the enormous value. Women, who had never answered discussion questions before, did so; women, who were struggling and in pain in a certain area of their lives, shared their pain with the small group and an opportunity to have a deeper conversation about Jesus even arose with one of the non Christian mums.
- Discussion groups are vital for creating an accepting environment.
- Having the same leader of each discussion group each fortnight provides a sense of emotional safety.
- Consistent members of a discussion group provide an opportunity for women to build significant relationships.
- discussion groups provide a nurturing environment where women are challenged to examine their relationship with Jesus.
But I hear many of you say, “How can we assign mums to a discussion group when they don’t turn up every week? Some discussion groups are large one week and only have two mums the next!”
Don’t be scared off by this scenario. Maybe some weeks it is timely and productive for those two mums to have more intimate conversations.
“How do we split our mums up into discussion groups? Our mums want to sit with their friends.”
Many MOPS groups do this differently.
- One group start with mums in friendship groups at tables for morning tea, the icebreaker and Mentor talk then move across to a circle of chairs set up for them in their prearranged discussion groups. (These groups were decided by Coordinator and Mentor on basis of the mum’s current parenting status. Eg very young babies, kinder and school age children, etc)
- Another group assigns people to tables at the beginning of the year by praying over each table, asking God to put the right mums together and then just doing it – watching for certain mums that might need a certain kind of table.
- Another starts by working out discussion group leaders, then ensuring they have a least 1 other Christian on their table to be a backup and then work from there. They try to always mix it up from the year before.
- Another group splits the steering team evenly over the groups, making sure there is a good mix of skills for the group (outspoken, administrative, etc). Then, the members are randomly assigned at the first meeting.
- In another group the Coordinator work closely with the DGTL and talks with the DGL’s about cliques, problems and personality types and then groups the mums based on the feedback.
Discussion Groups are vital. Please don’t just ignore this part of a MOPS morning because it seems too hard. Your Regional Coordinator would love you to ring and chat with her if you would like to discuss more ideas for your unique situation.
MOPS Area Coordinator: SA, Tas, Vic