As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Our church is moving into a Small Group model (also known as Life Groups, Home Groups, Fellowship Groups, or Community Groups). In these groups, we’ll support one another. We’ll challenge one another to grow—iron sharpens iron. I know these things, and I miss being a part of a group at church… but I’m hesitant to jump on in.
Here’s the main reason: Several years ago, my husband and I were part of a church small group when a seemingly small misunderstanding occurred between us and another couple.
We tried to talk with them, but they were very upset. We set a time to meet with a pastor together, but they didn’t keep the appointment. We tried the “water under the bridge” approach, but we could feel their animosity every time we ran into them.
Months later we heard that the husband had undergone surgery, so I prayerfully wrote them a kind, loving note, wishing them well and saying that we were praying for a smooth recovery. I received a note in return, one filled with thinly veiled unkindness and accusation.
After I read it, I threw the note away. I prayed as I did it, asking God to take the hurt. At that moment, I felt that I’d made every effort to heal the relationship, and I let them go.
Eventually we moved to a different church. That couple wasn’t the reason, but what a relief it was not to see them every Sunday morning! Our unity was broken, and so was our peace.
When we enter into deeper relationships, we’re taking a risk together: we’re making ourselves susceptible to knee-jerk reactions, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings. So how can we best organize a small group?
To help avoid that misunderstanding and hurt, you can set clear expectations. Talk about everything you can think of, right up front.
- What will you do and how often will you do it?
- What is the weekly time commitment?
- What’s your goal as a group?
- Who will be in charge?
- How will all of the arrangements work (childcare, snacks)?
- What is the group stance on inviting guest or new members to join?
You can bet I’ll be gently asking all of these things and more when I join a small group—I’ll organize it right up! And that will help, but I have no doubt that misunderstandings will still occur.
So, I plan to bathe them in prayer through Ephesians 4:1-3. That verse has some powerful applications, not just to us as individuals, but as groups serving God together.
- Lord, please help us to live up to the calling we’ve received. Help us to shine for You.
- Help us to be completely humble and gentle as we talk together.
- Help us to be patient and bear with one another in love as we make mistakes.
- Be with us as we make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through a bond of peace.
This is the basic Organizing You one-two punch for handing life: get organized, surrender to God. So of course I’ll apply it to Life Groups! Will you?
Take the Challenge:
If you’re already in a small group, it’s never too late to clear the air by asking some of the questions above. You can’t please everyone, but you can make sure that you’re all expecting the same things out of your group. Then bathe your group in prayer.
Even if you’re not in a small group, is there any broken unity between you and another believer? Do you feel that you’ve made every effort toward peace? If not, take that next step toward peace today. If so, take a moment to surrender that relationship to the Lord and claim His peace in your own heart.
What’s your advice for organizing a small group? I’d love to hear, because I’m getting ready to jump on in!
For help with relaxing your heart so you can open your home, check out my handbook, Organizing For Christian Hospitality!
Please share this post with other small-groupies! 🙂 Here’s a Pin-Friendly image:
And, until I get the comments up and running again (working on it!), I’ll just paste in these great comments I got on Facebook. Lots of great ideas here:
“The first meeting our women’s group had we all shared something about ourself that no one knew. This helped us open up and be honest with each other. Meeting each time and giving some time for prayer requests and praises also helps us to be vulnerable and open with each other. Living life together keeping Jesus the subject. The leader giving a survey also helps the women to share what they need in a small group and what they are looking for in a small group. Our pastor keeps the leaders accountable by setting up 3 goals for the group for the year, 4 outreach events for each quarter of the year, the mission of the group, and organizing any big event we may have as a group for the year.” (Amy Chaffin)
“One idea we’re trying to put into practice with our group that has been missing is sharing the “ownership” of the group more. We host and lead and haven’t had co-leaders in two years, not by choice. (I highly recommend a co-leader if possible!) If there isn’t a co-leader, ask for help. Ask someone else to host occasionally if you usually host. We asked a couple to organize men’s and women’s nights every once in a while for our group. At one point we had someone organize our “mission,” which is an organization we serve together. Assign someone to be an administrative person for the group who sends emails, maintains the schedule, contact info, etc. Depending on the type of group, you could also have a person who’s in charge of celebrations or someone in charge of leading musical worship or organizing activities for the kids or whatever. Shared leadership makes things less overwhelming for everyone and also makes people more likely to attend meetings.” (Elise Walter)
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