Learn—Maximum Time: 85 Minutes
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“Learn—Maximum Time: 85 Minutes,” Facilitating Groups for Self-Reliance (2016)

“Learn—Maximum Time: 85 Minutes,” Facilitating Groups

Learn—Maximum Time: 85 Minutes

What Is a Self-Reliance Group? (10 minutes)


“I Will Provide for My Saints,” available at srs.lds.org/videos under “Video Resource” in the “Facilitating Groups” section


How will my faith in Jesus Christ affect my spiritual and temporal self-reliance?


The purpose of self-reliance groups is to help people change the way they live. Elder M. Russell Ballard taught: “I believe councils are the most effective way to get real results. Additionally, I know councils are the Lord’s way and that He created all things in the universe through a heavenly council, as mentioned in the holy scripture” (“Family Councils,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2016, 63).

By working together in a council setting, group members have access to more talents, inspiration, experience, and knowledge than they have alone. A self-reliance group:

  • Consists of 8–12 members working on a common interest, such as managing finances, finding a better job, improving their education, or starting and growing a business.

  • Is a safe environment where everyone feels comfortable participating equally.

  • Meets weekly for up to 12 weeks to develop new skills and habits.

  • Uses a council model so its members can learn from and encourage each other.

  • Commits to act each week on what its members are learning.

  • Reports progress so its members can hold each other accountable for their commitments.


How are self-reliance groups different from workshops or other classes you’ve attended?

Your Role as a Facilitator (15 minutes)


“How to Facilitate a Group,” available at srs.lds.org/videos under “Video Resources” in the “Facilitating Groups” section


What did the facilitator in the video have to change from being a teacher to being a facilitator? How did it impact the group?


The Lord said about councils or groups in the Church, “Let not all be spokesmen at once; but let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all, and that every man may have an equal privilege” (D&C 88:122; italics added).

In self-reliance groups, no one is called to teach! As a facilitator, your job is to help group members follow the materials, participate, and invite the Spirit into the discussion. You were not called to be the subject expert. Instead, you should participate as a group member, keeping commitments and learning together. Following the principles below (in bold) will help your group have a successful experience.

Create a safe environment. Each week participants will report openly to the group their progress in keeping commitments. They will make mistakes and experience failure as they journey toward greater self-reliance. This is normal and healthy. It is critical that participants feel they are in a safe environment to try, fail, and eventually succeed.


What are some ways you can help participants feel safe, comfortable, and accepted in the group?


Encourage participation. As a facilitator, you should not speak more than anyone else in the group. You should blend in and help give everyone a voice.


How would you deal with someone who dominates the conversation or doesn’t participate?


Start and end on time. Group members should be able to trust that the group will start and end on time. Each section and activity has suggested time limits. Each week you can assign someone in the group to be the timekeeper.


What other things can you do to help the group run on time?


Keep comments relevant and positive. Never share stories that are critical of others, even if they are about someone unknown to group members.


How can you encourage group comments to be focused and respectful?

The Structure of a Self-Reliance Group Meeting (40 minutes)


“‘Go and Do’ Learning,” available at srs.lds.org/videos under “Video Resources” in the “Facilitating Groups” section


Each group meeting has five sections. You should never skip a section.

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In this section, group participants evaluate their effort and report their progress to the group. They share the things they have learned from practicing new skills and habits. Evaluating progress is critical to form new habits. (Takes 20–30 minutes.)


How can reporting our progress openly to the group help us?

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My Foundation:

In this section, members learn and put into practice principles of faith, education, hard work, and trust in the Lord. Each week participants review a basic principle that will help them become more self-reliant. (Takes 20 minutes.)


Why do we study both doctrine and temporal skills in our groups?

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In this section, group participants read, discuss, and practice new ideas and skills that will help them be temporally self-reliant. (Takes 40–50 minutes.)

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In this section, group participants ponder and write about the things they have learned during the group meeting. They seek guidance from the Lord and identify ways to improve. Please do not skip this section. (Takes 5–10 minutes.)


How does pondering—in silence and without discussion—allow the Holy Ghost to teach us?

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In this section, participants commit to practicing the new skills and habits they learned and discussed in the group meeting. Making and keeping commitments is critical to the process of establishing new habits. To help, participants will select another member of the group to act as an action partner. Action partners check on each other during the week to provide encouragement and support. Participants also commit to teach what they learned to their family or friends. (Takes 5–10 minutes.)


Why is it important to be and have an action partner?

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Participants must act on their commitments during the week to change the way they live! Doing and teaching others what they learned helps develop skills and habits of self-reliance. (Takes 3–8 hours a week.)


How can I help group members act during the week to build good habits?


Now that you know about the structure, let’s practice a real section of a meeting together.

How People Join Groups (10 minutes)


“Choosing a Self-Reliance Group,” available at srs.lds.org/videos under “Video Resources” in the “Facilitating Groups” section. (No video? Continue reading.)


The process to join a group involves three steps.

First, ward councils invite members to attend a self-reliance devotional.

Second, members attending the devotional will:

  • Learn basic doctrines and principles of self-reliance.

  • Assess their current spiritual and temporal needs.

  • Select a group that will improve their skills.

  • Choose a day, time, and location for group meetings.

Third, members typically start attending the group they chose one week after the devotional.

Administrative Responsibilities of a Facilitator (10 minutes)

Group Registration


It is important to register the group and later to complete a report at the end of the group. This process will allow you to request certificates for group members, receive additional training materials, and help the Church improve the self-reliance initiative. Please review the instructions below:

  • Before the first group meeting, download the Group Registration Form at srs.lds.org/report. Complete the form during the first group meeting. After the form is complete, visit srs.lds.org/report to enter the information.

  • Contact the stake self-reliance specialist each week to let him or her know who attended the meeting and any group member success stories.

  • Before the last group meeting, download the End of Group Report and Certificate Request Form at srs.lds.org/report. Complete the form during the last group meeting. After the form is complete, visit srs.lds.org/report to enter the information.

Preparing the Room and Videos Each Week


Your stake self-reliance specialist should reserve a room in the Church building for you. Each week you should come a few minutes early to set up the tables and chairs. You should also set up the audiovisual equipment and verify that the videos and sound work.

Facilitating “Find a Better Job” Groups

If you are facilitating a Find a Better Job group, there are two things you need to be aware of.

First, when you form your group at the self-reliance devotional, invite group members to bring a copy of a job listing they are interested in to each group meeting.

Second, your meeting options are flexible. Please read pages 16–17 in the appendix. Present the meeting options to those who choose your group at the self-reliance devotional.



Refer to this list often during your service as a facilitator.

What You Do before the Group Meeting

  • Call or text group members to remind them of the date, time, and place.

  • Review the material to prepare to facilitate—but do not prepare to teach it as a lesson.

  • Ask the stake self-reliance specialist to give you enough workbooks for everyone who signed up plus two additional copies.

  • Arrive early to set up the chairs, tables, and videos properly.

  • Have pens and pencils for people who forgot to bring their own.

What You Do at the Group Meeting

  • Greet group members warmly and get to know them.

  • Recognize and applaud their accomplishments and progress.

  • Assign a timekeeper to manage the suggested times.

  • Encourage discussion among group members.

  • Emphasize acting on commitments between meetings.

  • Remind group members to respect confidential information.

What You Do after the Group Meeting

  • Visit srs.lds.org/report after the first and final group meetings for registration, reporting, and certificates.

  • Encourage action partners to contact and help each other during the week.

  • Contact the stake self-reliance specialist each week and let him or her know your attendance and how the meeting went.

  • Prayerfully review the materials for the next group meeting.

  • Prepare spiritually and act upon promptings you receive.