5 leadership truths I’ve learned from my children
1. Don’t root your identity in what people think
2. Have fun
I’m taking a break from my blog between Christmas and New Year’s. I’m re-posting a couple of your favorites (based on clicks) and a couple of my own favorite posts from 2011. I hope you enjoy! I’ll be interacting in the comments section, so if you comment, I’ll respond. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
* image credit: iStockPhoto user Digital Skillet
Lots of small groups take the Christmas season off. And that’s fine.
But if you’re one of the groups that really loves Jesus, you’re not taking the season off. You’re soldiering through like the little drummer boy who could. Massive traveling, family celebrating, and time off of work won’t slow you and your group down!
If you’re one of the groups that’s meeting throughout the month of December, you may be wondering what you can do that’s a little outside of the norm. I’ve got some suggestions.
Don’t feel bad about wanting to have fun together as a group this Christmas season. Having fun together is very biblical.
* image credit: creation swap user Matt Gruber
How do you build enjoyment into your small group?
Because if you’ve ever been a part of a small group that’s boring, you know that humor, laughter, and fun don’t happen naturally. And what one person find amusing, another can find offensive. Fortunately, although the presence of humor and fun can’t be guaranteed, group leaders can help ensure there’s freedom and space to pursue it.
1. Don’t plan to start on time.
If you truly desire to build a community of people who love and care for each other, will go to bat for each other, and consistently encourage each other—find a way to have some fun. You’ll find yourself eagerly anticipating your meeting time together each week. You’ll be less likely to burn out. And your group will find a renewed energy each week.
They can thank me later.
If I haven’t yet, allow me to convince you why it’s vital for the health of your small group to incorporate “fun” into its life. Read my thoughts HERE.
*I originally published this for smallgroups.com
If you’re looking for a small group, you probably wouldn’t like mine.
Based on the reasons above, would you want to join my small group?
I recently said this on Twitter:
The responses I received really made me think about what components go into producing a “healthy” small group.
A “healthy” small group is one that accomplishes “the win” for your system. Which means that a healthy group at our church may look a little different than the one at your church. And that’s ok. Step 1 is defining “the win.”
But there are certain things that “winning groups” do, right? Do you encourage those things?
Here are a few that I’ve come up with for our system.
…stirs your heart to action.
…helps remind you who you are in Christ.
…helps you realize the all-encompassing nature of the Gospel.
…is full of people taking steps of faith…together.
…helps you realize the fullness of Grace.
…helps remind you that the troubles in this life will one day be over.
…doesn’t wait until the group meeting to speak encouragement to one another.
…shares group responsibilities with each other.
…relies on each other when needs arise.
…isn’t satisfied with surface-level prayer requests.
…serves each other.
…has fun together.
…gives people safe space to explore their faith.
…is a safe space for non-believers.
What would you add to the list?
Two days ago (see post HERE), I made a “sexy” statement:
Small groups are dead.
But, like I said, I don’t believe it. I believe that small groups are alive and well in many churches in America and throughout the world.
Are small groups dead? I don’t think so.
I believe that some small groups are dead…and maybe one of those small groups is yours. But I don’t think that small groups are on their way out.
It’s like me saying, “The Cincinnati Reds had an awful season…so Major League Baseball is dead.”
Or…let’s take it a step further.
“The Cincinnati Reds are an awful franchise…so Major League Baseball is dead.”
Both conclusions are a leap. Just because the Reds are abysmal doesn’t mean that the MLB is a goner. There are many great teams, making plenty of money, winning plenty of games, and growing plenty of fans.
The Reds need to make some changes. But they, as a team, don’t discount the MLB.
However, some small groups are dead. In fact, you might be in one right now that’s dead.
1. Lack of commitment. Some people think they want to be a part of a small group. But in reality, they don’t. They’re not really ready to make the commitment necessary to truly be a part of a small group. Whether they’re not really ready to give up a night of their week, or not really ready to be open and honest, or not really ready to participate in the discussion, or not really ready to make an investment in someone else’s life…the truth is, they’re not really ready for small group. And a group with uncommitted group members quickly dries up.
2. The gap theory. When there’s too large of a gap between when a small group launches, and when they meet for the first time, vital energy is lost. When there is more than a 3 week gap, most groups will have a tough time ever getting off of the ground.
3. Relationships don’t form. I give a group 8 weeks. If after that amount of time, there’s no “gelling” going on, you can just about guarantee that the group is either going to eek along for the rest of its life or die a quick death. You can have the greatest small group leader of all time facilitating the discussion…but if the relationships don’t form, get ready to throw in the towel.
4. Time. Some groups need to start over. They’ve been together so long that the relationships are at a level of comfort that’s not conducive to growth. In our context, we’ve found that time period to be around 15-18 months. At that point, it’s time for the group to multiply and start new groups.
5. Lack of vision. If the group doesn’t know how to measure success, they will constantly feel like they’re in a state of failure. But with a healthy vision, an expectation of what a group “win” looks like, groups can aim for, and accomplish, the goal.
6. Lack of fun. If a group only studies the lesson every week, it’s going to crumble. I tell our group leaders that if they don’t actively try to make their group fun, people won’t come back. Boring groups aren’t very attractive. Just like a boring version of Christianity isn’t very attractive. Christians can, and should, have fun…what better place to do that than in a small group environment?
7. Lack of serving others. A group should focus on itself. If relationships aren’t built among group members, the group will remain shallow and fake. But if they only focus on building relationships with themselves, they get, in a sense, fat. Serving others is like spiritual exercise…putting our faith in action. I love this quote by Reid Smith
Christians on mission are sacrificial by nature. It’s why mission is important to group life & the Church!
Have you been a part of a small group failure? What led to its death?
I’m a small groups pastor, and part of my job is training up new small group leaders. In addition to philosophical/theological/boring stuff that I talk about in new leader trainings, I give practical advice to help them make their small group a success (I know, I know, some of you would argue that good theology is always practical…don’t get all up in arms about my wording…you know what I mean). Lots of this I learn because I lead a small group myself, and see group dynamics in action every week. Part of this I learn through reading books. Part I learn through reading blogs. But this time, I want to learn from you.
Have you ever been in a small group? How about a Sunday School class? How about a Bible study with at least a few other people? Still no? Have you ever been a part of a group of guys from the office, just sitting around and talking? (If you cannot answer “yes” to any of these questions, please close down your computer and get a real friend…j/k) If so, you can help me out.
What makes a small group successful? We may all define the “win” differently based on our context and goals, but what is it that helps you to acheive the goals you are setting out to accomplish? What can/should a small group leader do in order to be the best small group leader God is calling them to be? Leave a comment and let me know two things that you have learned from being a part of a small group. Your two answers won’t be comprehensive, but that’s ok. Here are mine:
1. Make your small group “fun.” If it’s not fun, people won’t come back. You may have the most Biblical discussion that has ever happened in the history of the church, but if it’s boring, you’ll lose people the following week.
2. Open a discussion. Give people a chance to voice objections, concerns, questions, and life experiences (and actually listen to their answers). They’re a part of the story, too, you know?!?
Those are my two. What do you think?