Monthly Archives: February 2014

When A Big Deal Is Too Big?

Too often, as small group leaders, we think we have to have all (or at least most of) the answers. When a difficult situation arises in a group that we’re not quite sure how to handle, the tension can be thick and difficult to deal with (both within the context of the group meeting itself, as well as within our own internal consciousness). We can feel somehow “unequipped” as a leader. We feel like, as the “leader,” we should know how to handle these things. After all, aren’t we there to care for and shepherd our people?

Yes – we are. But, guess what? You don’t.

It’s a fact that situations very well may come up that cause this kind of stress and tension in the group – perhaps even making some (or many) people uncomfortable as a result. These types of things may be related to a marital problem  a member/couple may be having, an addiction issue, a legal matter, or some other serious situation.

You need to understand that some things shouldn’t be dealt with in a small group (by the leader, or anyone else). Sure, you and the group are there to support each other in times of struggle and pain, but you also have to realize that you’re not a counselor and a small group is not a counseling session (even if you actually are a “counselor” or have one in your group). Some things are simply out of bounds. These are the situations I described above that can cause tension and stress within the group.

The best thing you can do is to recognize when something’s too big a deal to deal with in small group and stop it from being a topic of discussion at the time. You may even need to tell the person that this (the small group meeting) is not an appropriate forum for this kind of discussion. (this conversation is ideally done on the side, though that’s not always possible)  Next, recommend that the person(s) seek advice and counseling from a pastor or professional counselor (which you probably are not). Again, even if you have a pastor or professional counselor in your group, there’s a time and place for everything (and this isn’t it).

So, what can you do? Pray. You don’t need to know the details of the situation. Just pray for the person(s) and the situation. Remember this – the biggest single thing that differentiates groups that grow are ones where the leader prays for the group and its members regularly!

In Christ…

timrevisscrxipt

Group Life Deacon

trevis@firstdecatur.org
217.725.9089

“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them … not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” 1 Peter 5:2-3 (NIV)

Opening A Door for Others

You’ve probably heard us talk before about the importance of the “Open Chair” philosophy for Grow Together groups. If you’ve had the opportunity to use the SHIFT curriculum, you may also remember Pastor Brian and Pastor BJ talking about it.

If not, please allow me to explain… small groups are either “open” or “closed.” Open groups accept new members, while closed groups do not. The most common reason for groups being closed are that they’ve reached their maximum number of members for the group (which is not always a hard fast number, but is usually about a dozen). Sometimes groups are closed because of the nature of the group – for example, support type groups.

It’s our desire that no groups be closed – even if they reach a certain number of members. When a group reaches a certain size, an opportunity exists to launch one or two people (or a couple) to lead a new group. You’ve probably heard us talk about apprenticing potential leaders in your group specifically for this purpose.

Getting back to the “Open Chair” though… As you might imagine, the Open Chair model is where you literally have a empty (open) chair set up in your meetings representing the person who might/could be there. This serves as a powerful illustration to your group for sharing the opportunity with other people to get connected in the Grow Together ministry and the benefit of the community and growth that Grow Together groups provide. Ultimately, the purpose of groups is to build community, provide support for each other, to learn more about Jesus Christ and where we fit in God’s kingdom plan, and grow closer to Jesus Christ in our daily lives (in church-talk that’s called “discipleship”).

In his book A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic, author Rick Howerton discusses the fallacy that open groups hinder evangelism and intimacy (openness and sharing) among members of a group. However, research has shown that that just isn’t true. He cites research by Jim Egli (who has a PHd in Small Group Ministry), saying…

“Open groups actually experience significantly more community than closed groups! … If you want to experience deeper community in your small groups, you should make it an open group that is actively reaching out to others”

So, you can see how an Open Chair in your group can not only lead to a richer small group community experience for you and your current members, but can help extend that opportunity to others. Don’t be afraid of embracing the Open Chair – it’s a good thing! Beside, it seems like the Christian thing to do… don’t you think?

In Christ…

timrevisscrxipt

Group Life Deacon

trevis@firstdecatur.org
217.725.9089

“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them … not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” 1 Peter 5:2-3 (NIV)