Thursday, February 24, 2011

Who Should Join Us?

Let me paint a picture for you. Your group is ready to add a new person or couple. You’re excited for some new faces, some new stories, some new perspectives.

But one question hangs over your next move. How do you know who will fit into your small group? Will they push your group to the next level? Or will the new folks unravel everything that you’ve worked hard to build?

It’s an exciting and stressful thing. There are a number of questions to approach the decision-making process of welcoming new participants. Here are a few that come to mind:

Should your decision be based on:
● Similar hobbies?
● Favorite sports team?
● Parenting styles?
● Theological views?
● Worship-style preference?
● Preferred Bible translation?
● Ability to grill a mean burger?
● Prayer?
● All of the above?

There really isn’t just one right way. All may be important if the items listed above have a place in the DNA of your small group. Only a few may truly matter. But the ones that do—they’re too large to overlook.

So talk about it. Ask your group members what aspects of your covenant are non-negotiable? What element(s) of group life are the most life-giving? Your answers to those questions should determine the likelihood of a potential fit, or a potential struggle, for your new members.

New members don’t have to look like you, think like you, or vote like you—but they should hold the same values and priorities that your group does.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Hot Seat

Have you ever been in the hot seat? I’m not talking about a football coach or baseball manager whose job is under scrutiny. I’m not talking about your small group roasting you for laughs. I’m referring to the hot seat of prayer. Have you been there?

Recently, one of the small group communities that I engage with put me (and everyone else in our group) on the hot seat. Tense? Intimidating? Nope!

Here’s what it looks like: one chair in the middle of the room—that’s the hot seat. That’s where you sit, with palms open, with everyone gathered around. Some stand with hands on your shoulders, others bow down with hands on your knees. All are linked together to bring you before the Father in prayer.

Sound weird? It’s not. It’s powerful!

It’s about calling out to God on your behalf. Some pray for your walk of faith. Others lift up your marriage. Others pray for your personal ministry. In our group, the final person prays the Priestly Blessing (Numbers 6:22-27) over you.

It’s humbling to hear, and tangibly feel, your group members pray for you. It’s a powerful experience for the person on the hot seat—and for the entire group as you pray for your brothers and sisters.

So don’t be shy—put each other on the hot seat!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Go Old-School Nike with Your Small Group

It’s February. That means the inertia from your New Year’s resolutions have likely worn off. You’ve now reached the old Nike slogan phase, “Just Do It!”

Life in small group community is a lot like that.

I met with a small group leader yesterday who admitted as much. He said that many times he just doesn’t feel like going to his weekly small group—much less leading it! He told me that he’s tired. Everybody in his group is busy. People are stressed. And then it’s time for small group…

But then he followed up by saying something significant. He said something like this, “So many times when I don’t really feel like going to our small group, and I don’t feel like getting myself ready for small group—I walk away at the end of the night encouraged. Whether it’s a rich study, a powerful time of prayer, or just the friendships. I often wonder why I struggled to get there?”

This comment is a great—and honest—reminder to all who participate in small groups as a ministry leader, small group leader, or group participant. Small groups can be hard work. Community takes effort—but it’s worth it!

Authentic, life-changing, God-honoring community doesn’t just happen—it comes with a cost. Sometimes the cost is financial (babysitters), or emotional (needy people dealing with a tough situation), or time consuming (we sacrifice other things to participate). Yet when you’re willing to pay the costs and make the commitment—the benefits can far exceed the initial cost.

So the next time you’re tired and don’t feel like going or leading your small group, try the old-school Nike way—just do it!

Authentic Biblical community is worth the cost.