The Do’s and Don’ts of Small Groups:
DON’T: Micromanage your small group attendees. If you’ve ever said “We want life changing discussion to take place, and I’m glad tonight was the night you understood God wanted you to deal with some things, but we’re on a schedule and snack time just started” then you’re doing it wrong.
Every week is not a colossal battle between the forces of evil and you. Don’t shut people down because they’re asking the wrong questions, and don’t shut people up because their tearful confession might cause the group to end before the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory. Don’t “control” your small group; just lead the way. I’ll never forget the time a young couple asked about a chance to contribute and were shut down dismissively in mid-sentence by the group leaders. That couple never went to that group again, but became excellent leaders and helped me launch a couple of new groups. The original group ceased to exist shortly after that episode.
DO: Align with your church’s vision to make disciples whenever you meet. Each time your group meets, articulate the purpose of your group and set the focus for your time. Don’t make this a big production: you don’t have to make a PowerPoint presentation and hand out discussion guides on the church vision every week. Simply reveal the purpose in everything you; if your purpose is to make disciples, keep doing that. Choose wisely when to redirect discussion to stay on topic, and when to simply let folks share and ask questions together. If your group is about making disciples, engaging culture, and loving people, then redirect to those things whenever it seems natural to do so. If you feel like the group you lead lacks focus, lead the way. Leadership matters!
“The Great Commission” (also known as Disciple-Making) is the command Jesus laid out for His followers. We are to “Make Disciples” of all nations. We are to “Make Disciples” of all people, everywhere. He didn’t create two distinct categories of “Evangelism” and “Discipleship” that we see today (my guess is that was invented so someone could sell two books instead of one).
Just like Jesus, Christians for centuries have utilized small groups of believers as a practical way to provide support, encouragement, growth, and fellowship with one another as we make disciples together. Small groups in a contemporary church environment are just as effective in “Disciple-Making” today, but simply putting people in a group and having a staff member tell them what to do doesn’t make disciples. I believe that an effective small groups ministry is one that consistently makes disciples, engages the culture they find themselves in, and loves people. So this week, I give you five days of “The Do’s and Don’ts of Small Groups.”