1. To make easier or less difficult; help forward (an action, process, etc.)
2. To assist the progress (of a person)
Synonyms: expedite, simplify, further, aid, ease, promote, etc.
I'm providing this definition just for a bit of background, and I feel that words like "to make easier" or "help forward" require a bit of supposition on our part. They are vague terms, and any time vague is an issue, interpretation comes into play.
For the past few years, I have been facilitating Women's Bible Study at church. I'm probably not the best candidate for the job, but I am the most willing candidate...so here we are. As a facilitator, I've had a variety of responsibilities. Those responsibilities include (but are not limited to) creating a timeline for the study, creating mailers and informational handouts for the participants, choosing a study, looking over that study in the name of preparedness, encouraging participants, organizing prayer information for participants, contacting participants, organizing contact information for all involved, procuring and setting up a room for Bible study, buying and organizing snacks for Bible study, preparing the projector for study, praying for the participants, leading discussion each week and encouraging others to talk or have a say in the study.
I'm not looking for a pat on the back, because I love my women and I love study. My point is that facilitation is an in-depth business. You don't dole out tasks and sit back and watch it all come together. I'm not saying that facilitation requires you to micromanage (I don't, after all, tell each woman what they need to get out of the study), but it does require a certain amount of organization and dedication to the event.
Fortunately, I am also a facilitator of learning: or what most people call a teacher. As a public school teacher, I would say that it is not my job to teach every single kid who walks through my classroom door. It IS my job, however, to facilitate a learning environment that allows all students to receive an education (provided they choose to receive). How do I facilitate that learning environment? I prepare a lesson that has clear directives and expectations. I provide the information in a clear and concise manner and I open the floor to discussion from other students so we can get different perspectives.
I would say that there are some students who get more out of the lesson that others. It's true what they say: You get out of the lesson what you put into the lesson; HOWEVER, I would also say that it's still the responsibility of the teacher to put time and effort into lesson planning and presentation. Without that effort, it won't matter how much the students put into the lesson. It will be a haphazardly delivered mess that may not be clear in information at all.
With all this in mind, it's understandable that I would be a little put out to hear someone simply state that you get out of things what you put into them and some jobs are just for facilitation without recognizing everything else those two things require. Just because people get out of a situation what they put into it doesn't mean that we are free to become laxidasical about preparation. And, by the way, a job that is meant to facilitate is probably one of the rougher jobs one could under take. Put it this way: if an administrator came to me and asked me to facilitate discussion about a particular issue with the faculty, I would have to think long and hard before accepting. Positions like that are time consuming and rigorous--at best.
Maybe the reason the "facilitate" definition is so vague is because each situation is going to be different. What you have to do to help one thing forward might require weeks and weeks of work while helping another thing forward may only require an hour or two every other week. The point is it still requires work.
When did effort and preparation go to the wayside? Maybe that's something that needs to be considered before you look down your nose at people who aren't doing what you want them to do when you want them to do it.
In short: do your job to the best of your ability. I'm certainly doing mine.