Leader FAQs

1. Why is it suggested to have mixed groups of males and females?

2. Why do you recommend married couples not be in the same group?

3. What if a Phase 1 group drops down to one man or woman and a facilitator of the opposite gender?

4. Does age have anything to do with how groups are put together?

5. What if someone is unhappy with their group?

6. How old does someone have to be to participate in a Phase 1 group?


1. Why is it suggested to have mixed groups of males and females?

There are three main reasons that mixed groups are most conducive. First, people going through the Phase 1 process are going to get in touch with childhood issues that involved male and female authority figures or males and females in other relationships. Having a member of the opposite gender read an affirmation is often going to have a different effect than a person of the same gender. A woman who does not have any males in her group isn’t going to hear the affirmations from a father voice, and in the same way, a male without female group members is not going to hear the affirmations from a mother voice. Being able to have this ingredient adds another aspect to being able to process that may not be there otherwise.

Second, the opposite gender can add another perspective. For example, a man may have had a hard time understanding how his wife thinks and believes. He thinks that it is just how his wife is. Then, he gets into a group with other females and realizes that it is actually a “woman” thing. It allows him to have a greater appreciation and understanding that he might not have had before. This works in the reverse situation as well. One woman on her Phase 1 evaluation stated, “I think a male participant should be in every group…something was missing when he wasn’t there.”

In addition, a woman in a Phase 1 group had the belief that “all men are pigs.” She had a lifetime of abuse by men beginning as a little girl. She had reasons to think this way given the way she had been treated by men over the years. As a result of having a mixed group with men who showed genuine concern for her well-being, she was able to see her belief as a lie.

Moreover, a man was in an all male group where he shared his struggle with pornography. He told us he wished he had women in his group as well because he would have then experienced God’s grace and acceptance “from the other half of the population”. It is one thing for other men to understand a pornography addiction, but being accepted by women in the midst of that is even more powerful.

Third, the body of Christ is made up of men and women. There is a reason why God made males and females. They each add important ingredients to what it means to be human.

There is a need in the church to move away from men and women “fearing” that relationships with one another could turn into something immoral. We need to learn to see men and women as brothers and sisters in Christ. The Ultimate Journey encourages people to operate on this “family of God” basis that brings about healthier connections between men and women.

There are times when putting groups together that there aren’t a sufficient mix of genders to put men and women in the same group. That is okay. You just need to shoot for the best possibility and trust God with what happens.

There is a possibility for men and women to develop unhealthy connections in a Phase 1 Group. However, we know of only one case of it happening in the past 10 years. Even though it is part of the covenant that is signed not to encourage or accept any advances made by another group member, it can happen. But, it doesn’t happen just because a man and a woman are in a group together. It happens because there is a weakness in that man or woman that was already there that gets brought into the light. This is where the body of Christ and church leadership need to be involved to deal with the root issues going on with that person. Mixed TUJ groups do not cause immorality to surface, sin does. If it surfaces, then we know what is lurking there and can deal with it. There are a few things that can be done to minimize the chances of this happening. First, always refer to the men and women in the group as being brothers and sisters. When you pray in your group, thank God for the brothers and sisters that are there. Secondly, when you put your groups together, watch for any possible mixes that would be more conducive to problems occurring.

In conclusion, we have not had anyone say anything negative about their experience of being in a mixed gender group. On the contrary, virtually all evaluation comments received on this issue have indicated that it was advantageous to have mixed gender groups. Again, it is not possible that all groups will end up mixed, and if that is the case, then God has that situation covered.

2. Why do you recommend married couples not be in the same group?

There are two main reasons it is best to put spouses in separate groups. First, some of the most hurtful wounds people experience, can come from their spouses. A safe environment is necessary for these things to be shared. Having the spouse that hurt you in your group would likely be a detriment to being able to be transparent.

Second, it would be awkward for the other group members to be in a group with a married couple as the dynamics would not be the same. The couple would have a level of relationship that would by nature separate them from the other group members. Our recommendation is that spouses go in separate groups. However, if it is safe, we encourage couples to share their letters and what they are learning with each other outside of the group time. This can really bring couples closer together.

 3. What if a Phase 1 group drops down to one man or woman and a facilitator of the opposite gender?

It is not recommended that a group continue if it is going to end up having a facilitator and only one other person of the opposite gender. If it happens very early on in the session, then you can see if you can place that person in another group. If it happens later on, then see if you can recruit someone to be a co-facilitator for that time so that you can continue. The last resort would be to have a facilitator of the same gender get together with them at another time to help them finish, or apologize and ask that they take the group again next session. You want to do whatever you can for this person since they were not responsible for the situation.

 4. Does age have anything to do with how groups are put together?

It is great if you can have a group with a variety of ages. This comes closer to what a family would be like. If you have younger people it is helpful to put an older man or woman with them that can be a father or mother figure. It is usually not best to put young single people of the opposite sex together. They may find themselves more self conscious of trying to impress the other person and not be as safe to share. In some situations it is best not to put people of the opposite sex and similar ages together who are going through a divorce. This again might be a distraction.

5. What if someone is unhappy with their group?

One of the things that will help avoid this problem is to remind everyone that you pray about the groups and are trusting God that each person will be in the group best suited for them. Also, let them know that even though sometimes another person in their assigned group may remind them of someone they know and that brings up negative emotions, that is exactly the reason they need to be in that group. For example, a woman didn’t want to be in a group with a man that looked like her brother who committed suicide. Or a man that doesn’t want to be in a group that has a facilitator that reminds him of his mother. All of this is raw material and we need to trust God with it.

Take time to listen to the person’s concerns. Just by listening and giving them a voice you may be able to alleviate their fears. If you conclude that this person is just being difficult, then you may suggest they take the class another time.

Another source of unhappiness may be that they actually know or kind of know someone in the group and wouldn’t feel safe. That is a different issue. Generally this can be avoided by addressing this on the Group Member Application. But, if it comes up anyway, then consider putting that person in another group.

6. How old does someone have to be to participate in a Phase 1 group?

In general, a participant in a Phase 1 Group should be 17 years of age or out of high school. However, just because someone is old enough doesn’t mean they are ready. There are three main criteria to consider with younger adult participants.

First, does the person really want to do Phase 1 or are they doing it just because a parent or other adult is encouraging them to take it. Phase 1 can be difficult to go through even if you want to do it, let alone for those who don’t. It is important that the Group Director personally talk with a young person to assess why they are interested in going through the group to see if it is voluntary or not. Be wary of parents who come to you and want to use The Ultimate Journey to “fix” their children. Remember that parents are the ones who are supposed to be gardening their own children while they are at home. The best bet is to help parents get to the place where they can be good gardeners themselves.

Second, since Phase 1 deals with childhood, a person needs to be old enough that they can actually see themselves out of childhood so they have a past to look back on rather than feeling like they are still in it. A young person that has been out on their own for at least one year is the best candidate. By then they have started to see more of how their own patterns are affecting them personally.

Third, if a young person is still living at home, then it is imperative that the parents have been through The Ultimate Journey 1. Since many of the issues that are going to come up are related to the parents, there needs to be an environment where it will be safe for the child to explore those issues. This requires having parents that are going to be gardeners rather than being defensive or critical.

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