Thursday, May 26, 2011

Does Your Disdain for Meetings Affect Your Small Group?

Let’s face it—most of us don’t like meetings. You know, the kind that have an agenda (allegedly), where there’s more engaging conversation about last night’s ballgame than strategizing, and where decisions typically get “tabled” until the next meeting. You’ve been there. And, let’s be honest, you don’t enjoy them any more than I do.

The question is; does your disdain for these sort of meetings negatively impact your level of engagement and participation in your weekly small group meeting? If you’re frustrated with a string of boring get-nowhere meetings, here are two quick tips to make sure your small group doesn’t suffer the same fate:

1. Have a Plan
Whatever sort of meeting you’re involved with—work-related, PTO, baseball coaching—things go more smoothly if there is a specified plan. Your small group gathering is no different.

People like to know what they can expect when they get together. They like to know what the focus will be for the next hour and a half of their lives. As a leader, it’s your job to communicate your plans for the evening as soon as you have everyone’s attention.

This helps everyone feel at ease that there are no surprises—and gives them the opportunity to prepare their mind and heart for what comes next.

You don’t need an official agenda, but clarifying a plan at the beginning can make a big difference.

2. Lead with Respect
We’ve all been in meetings where the leader/facilitator clearly did not have much respect for you or your time. They don’t say it, and it’s not an intentional thing, but they lead their meeting without a specific plan. They often toss in a joke here and a rabbit-trail conversation there. (Sometimes this is needed to loosen people up a bit, but more often then not it’s due to a lack of concern for others.)

This is the sort of thing that makes people not want to return to your group each week.

So the recommendation is to lead your small group meeting with intentionality and purpose. Lead with a sense of urgency. Lead with a sense of meaning and purpose and focus. Not rushed, of course, but with a goal in mind. That goal might be an evening of prayer, an in-depth study time, or the sharing of each other’s stories. Whatever the goal is, it’s your responsibility as a leader/facilitator to guide your group down the right path.

Getting bogged down in trivial things will slow your group’s progress and frustrate group members. Try not to recreate the disdain they have for corporate and PTO meetings in your small group. Instead, lead your group with respect for people’s time and concerns.

Friday, May 13, 2011

You Know How I Have Lived

A group of church leaders that I have the privilege of journeying with is currently working to memorize Acts 20:16-24.
“Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost.
From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church.
When they arrived, he said to them: "You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. I served the Lord with great humility and with tears…However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-- the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.”
Acts 20:16-24
In summary, the passage summarizes the Apostle Paul’s passion for repentance, faith, and the Gospel of Grace. It’s his impassioned plea for his co-laborers in the Gospel to see how he has given his life for the furthering of God’s Kingdom.

In the center of this Paul’s words, one proclamation captures my attention—and I hope yours: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you.”

As a leader of a small group, or any other Christ-centered community, these words must cause us to evaluate our own faith journey. They must cause us to consider our own leadership. Do those in my Christ-centered community truly know me? Do they genuinely know how I have lived? And how I am living today?

They should.

Transparency and authenticity is critical to the life of a spiritual leader. How can someone follow your lead if they don’t know you? How can those in your community support you if they don’t know your heart?

Living openly and honestly about your pain points, your struggles, your joys, and your victories is crucial to the health of your community—and ultimately the ministry that comes from your hand and from those in your group.

The Apostle Paul made a bold proclamation—“you know how I have lived.” Can you say the same?