Three Types of Struggling Journalers & How To Hold Them Accountable

Three Types of Struggling Journalers & How To Hold Them Accountable

You ask your group, “Who wants to share from their H.E.A.R. journal?” and the next thing you know one of your members is talking about their nightmare experience at the DMV…I probably don’t even have to describe the rest of this situation to you. This is what we call “The Wanderer,” and that is just one type of struggling journalers out there. Today, we’re going to look at the three most common types of journalers, see where they are struggling, and learn how we can use their strengths to improve their ability to dive into Scripture and let God speak to them.  

Why H.E.A.R. Journaling is Important

We don’t journal just to have something to do during the week; we journal to help create an environment that allows us to hear God speaking to us. For this purpose, we Highlight a passage in His Word that sticks out to us, Explain what it means in its original context, Apply what we learned to our lives, and Respond to what God is teaching us. Determining which types of struggling journalers you have in your group is not just to get them to check a box, but rather to help them encounter God in a more authentic way. Most of the time, when one of your members is struggling it is because they’re neglecting one of the letters in H.E.A.R.  

Three Types of Struggling Journalers & How You Can Help them Succeed:

1. The Wanderer

Back to the story about the DMV. A member that gets off track pretty quickly is what we have named The Wanderer. The Wanderer often gives up on the H.E.A.R. method before even starting. They often don’t even have a verse to reference, and instead, they dictate the group’s time to talk about something personal or unrelated. There are many reasons behind why they might do this; laziness, rebellion, lack of time-management skills, are just a few. As the leader, this can be frustrating. But, more importantly, it is also a chance to lead with grace, and to assume the best of your member. In your mind, offer them the benefit of the doubt. Out loud, gently guide them back to Scripture. You even say something like, “We’ll have some time for accountability and prayer in a little bit, but right now, can you share one of your H.E.A.R. Journals from this week?” This question will steer The Wanderer back to Scripture and invite them to engage with it.

2. The Scholar

This type of person has good intentions and buckets of enthusiasm about what they’re reading. They’re off to a strong start and have shared a verse that stood out to them. Then they begin explaining it. And explaining it. And then they continue explaining it. They’re busting out the concordance, then passing out handouts. They’re announcing a quiz at the end of the week. The Scholar has definitely begun the E in H.E.A.R., but they never move past it. They struggle most with application and response. When you encounter this type of member, try approaching them with, “Those are some amazing insights. Based on those insights, what do you think a believer today can take away from this verse?” Questions like that will move The Scholar toward application.

3. The Generalist

So the Wanderer gets derailed before beginning, the Scholar gets stuck on the explanation, and while the Generalist can make it a little farther in the H.E.A.R. process, this person struggles most with their response. For example, Generalist thoroughly explains the context of the verse they highlighted, unpacking it beautifully and sharing a timeless truth that applies to this day. Then they finish with one of these statements: “I just need to trust God more.” “I need to not be so prideful.” “I need to let God be Lord of my life.” These responses are general and vague. They could apply to nearly anyone and to nearly any passage. As the leader, you should push the Generalist to not just share a helpful principle, but also make it personal and specific. A great question to ask The Generalist is: “How can you make that application personal and specific to you?”

The Goal: Meaningful Discussions & Accountability

Whenever we can help our members better engage with the H.E.A.R. method, we will start to see our discussions around the Word become richer and our accountability grow deeper. We have a number of resources to help you with your own process, as well as more resources to help you in conversations like these at In the comments below, let us know if there’s another type of journaler that you’ve encountered in your groups, as well as what you do to help keep the conversation on track!