Not everyone is comfortable in a setting where there are a lot of people. Especially if they are not familiar with others in the group or at times when there are vulnerable moments. However, interaction and discussion is encouraged in the life group setting. Often, it is those who listen that have the greatest insights, as they have been pondering and processing what others are saying. Here are some suggestions to safely draw out members of the group that may be more reserved.
Allow thinking time. Let the silence hang for 5-10 seconds after discussion or asking a question. Many people need time to think and generate thoughts/answers.
Plan specific questions for silent members in areas you know they are comfortable with sharing and discussing. When using direct questions to draw out specific silent members, gently address them by name. This alerts them and gives them thinking time. Sometimes it helps to say, "Sarah, I always appreciate when you share and would love your thoughts." This allows them to speak without asking a direct question.
Positively reinforce participation. Stress the value of participation and then encourage them when it happens.
Be alert when people give non-verbal clues that they are about to speak. Common examples are the preparatory deep breath, a connection with the eyes or body movement. Simply by focusing on them when you catch these cues can encourage and give them confidence to share. Sometimes a non-threatening verbal invitation works as well.