My church is composed of small groups that meet throughout the week. We have group members from all over the spiritual spectrum. We have unbelievers who are simply trying to understand what Christianity is all about all the way to seasoned, mature Christ-followers. Many of those attending small groups are doing so for the very first time. That’s why we like to share our ‘Good Group Habits’ to help give some guidance to their group time (i.e., their once-a-week gathering versus their throughout the week doing “life on life”). Here are the ten things* we want groups to be mindful of:
- Always remember our purpose! We are here to grow in full devotion to Jesus.
- We all have feelings (even guys). When we talk to each other we should be mindful of HOW we say something, making sure we’ve phrased it in such a way that the people we’re talking to have the greatest chance of receiving what we’ve said. Speak as you want to be spoken to. Let courtesy, grace, and respect win the day.
- Each small group member is invited but not required to join in the discussion. The same can be said about prayer time and accountability. Yet even though it isn’t required, to opt out of these things is a huge detriment to not only your spiritual growth but the group as well. It’s been said that the less you open up, the less you grow. So take a chance and engage!
- On the flipside, don’t be a “talk-hog”. Like a “ball-hog” in basketball who keeps the ball to himself, dominates the shot-taking, and never passes it to others, don’t be the one who always has to talk every time the opportunity arises. Discussion time is limited, so please be sure that everyone who wants to speak has the opportunity to do so (this applies to prayer time too). In other words, “Pass the ball.”
- We’re in this for the long haul. If you’ve ever run a marathon or another long-distance race you know it all comes down to pacing yourself. Growth is the same way. We want to grow in Christ but that doesn’t always come quickly, sometimes it takes time to get where we want to go…or where others know we should be. Belief changes are changes that usually take time as we’re getting before truth, letting it soak in, and slowly owning it ourselves. That means process. That means time. So if we want group to work best we must be committed to being patient with each other. Not all of us are at the same place spiritually and frankly, all of us have weak areas spiritually that others may have down already. So let’s create a patient and loving environment where someone can ask questions and feel safe, not threatened. Let’s run together not in an “I-can’t-believe-you-don’t-know-that” way but an “I-love-you-enough-to-let-us-find-the-truth-together” way.
- Let’s stay on-task. It’s easy to let group become an exercise in rabbit-chasing but time is short. While a rabbit or two maybe okay, the group should do its best on staying the course in what it is studying/discussing and how we can apply what we’re learning. The small group leader’s job is to try to keep the ship sailing forward.
- When it comes to prayer time, share yourself. Community suffers when the only prayer requests seem to be for “Aunt Bertha’s bad toe” week after week. Let your group pray for you – your needs, your desires, and your heart.
- If you have to miss group, please let your leaders know ahead of time. Thanks!
- Do your homework if you have any!
- “What happens in group stays in group.” Confidentiality is a must when it comes to sharing our hearts with each other! NOTE: A small group leader is accountable to a Group Guide who oversees them. The Group Guide is considered a member of the group. Thus, and please note, we consider a group’s confidentiality intact if a small group leader divulges group-sensitive information in order to seek counsel from his/her Group Guide.
*Adapted from The Church: A Missional Community by Clear Creek Community Church, League City, Texas