Formally or informally, many churches promote the concept of co-leadership or “apprentice” leaders. A co-leader is a secondary leader who assists with the group and is trained by the leader to do these tasks effectively (II Tim. 2:2). A co-leader will be assigned tasks throughout the group life as they are able, such as: Continue reading
A leader is one who guides, organizes, or directs people or a process toward a desired end. In order for a small group to accomplish its purposes, it must have a leader who can guide and direct it. The leader must decide what the group will do each meeting, as well as how it will be done. The leader also must conduct the meetings and take steps to make sure they are effective and productive.
Leadership tasks include (but are not limited to): Continue reading
The small group is a unique setting for God to accomplish the purposes He has spelled out for His people in the Scriptures. Small groups, therefore, seem to be uniquely qualified to accomplish the following four-core purposes: Continue reading
We’ve talked about how important it is for the leader to accept others in the group, no matter where they are at, what they are doing or what they share with the group. Particularly during the sharing of prayer requests, it is better to err on the side of seeming to be too accepting! If people think that you or others are judging them because of what they have said, particularly for what they have revealed about themselves, particularly if it was hard for them to do so, you can be sure they won’t be sharing anything of that personal nature again! Acceptance is so important here. If it is something significant in their life, there will be opportunity, either in the group or outside of it, to challenge explore this further with them or challenge their thinking as necessary. But – when initially shared, they are simply looking to be heard and to be prayed for. By listening, accepting, caring and praying, you are providing a foundation for them to trust you even further in the future. Continue reading
Another requirement for success which helps engender trust in the group members, even from the start when you don’t know anyone, is the commitment to confidentiality that everyone in the group must make. This is of course is a commitment that the leader has to spell out clearly at the beginning and reiterate regularly during the course of the group’s life. Continue reading
I have already mentioned that one of the requirements for success with this prayer time is that we actually do it! Beyond that, we must also make a set aside time to do it so that people know that is it a positive and natural part of living the Christian life with others and it will be available to them through the life of the small group. Continue reading
Let’s continue our discussion on barriers. Quite often, there is a very real fear of being hurt by others. If you do decide to share what is really going on, people might reject you. Or perhaps they will judge you. Or make you feel guilty, or ashamed. And this is never pleasant. And because people have experienced this in the past, and have experienced by comparison a very small degree of unconditional love, it is much safer (and easier) for people to not engage in Christian Community.
Please understand that it is possible for people to react negatively to what you share, to you sharing about who you really are, what you are really thinking, the questions, hopes, fears, dreams you really have. And that is exactly why a commitment is made to confidentiality and no advice-giving in the group, to show people how to love one another in this area, so that you can begin to trust each other in these very important areas. Continue reading
I believe it is too easy to support a “dishonest fellowship”, rather than a real one. What I mean by this is that we are supposed to be spiritual, we are supposed to “not sin.” Therefore, we can’t talk about the real struggles and the real problems in our lives, because it wouldn’t be spiritual to do so.
In a nutshell, it is just not spiritual to be unspiritual, so we pretend we’re not unspiritual, all the while in this pretense preventing our own growth by being honest about our sin. This is often supported, intentionally or unintentionally by church leaders, because they of all people, are supposed to be the most mature and the most spiritual, and therefore typically do not feel able to let people see that they struggle too. Continue reading
First, our approach to church and to relationships in general has very much become a consumer mentality. If I don’t like this church or these people, I will go find another church. Our tendency is to leave one another when the going gets tough, when the Bible talks about loving one another when the going gets tough.
Second, there is a view of faith in some traditions of the church as being personal and private, so that you don’t talk about how you integrate faith into your everyday life, where you need prayer, and how you are doing spiritually. Let it be said that our Christian faith is personal, but it is not private. Nowhere do you get this idea in the New Testament. All of the one another commands discussed above would tell you that our personal faith is not anything besides a sharing of life together in community.
Third, sometimes our church structures are not set up or organized where we give people permission, allowance, and encouragement to build Christian Community by getting to know one another in deep and meaningful ways. Our support of these institutional programs (or even of small group programs where building Christian community is only given lip-service) rather than small groups to build Christian community, can be a significant barrier to building Christian community.
This cultural assault on historical community creates some barriers to building Christian Community in the church and in the small group.
- First, most people haven’t experienced healthy genuine caring relationships where they belong to a group of people who are committed to them and they can trust. Continue reading