As we grow naturally our bodies change and we adapt.Similiarly as the Church,the Body of Christ grows,adjustments are made.There has to be flexibility and movememnt for expanding life.Small groups are no exception.Let`s lok at three areas where change can take place.
1.Stopping a group without feeling guilty.
As a group leader you may need to stop leadig a group due to work,family commitments or a change of direction.God may lead you into a different area of ministry.Our seasons may change and it`s important to understand what season you are in and what to do.Only lead a group if you are enjoying it and believe it is what you should be doing now.This is different than quitting a group because you are discouraged or offended.If so,you need to speak to God,a friend and the pastoral leadership.Brian Houston-`Encouragement is nourishment`.You may just need support and strength to continue to serve.However if you are entering a new season in your life,do not feel guilty stoping what you are doing now,if taking the next step in your journey is different.
2.Moving groups without offence.
Members of your group may leave and move on to another group.Don`t as a leader take offence.Sometimes people move because the night,time or location nolonger suits them as their circumstances have changed and they need to adjust.Friendships expand,people take on new interests or to progress in their walk with God some need to change groups.Do not take it personal.Remember the goal is to make disciples and encourage each to grow.It`s not about building people around you but pointing them towards Jesus.When some move from your group give them your blessing,encourage them in their next venture,keep in contact and always be available.
3.Have a health check.
There always is the danger a small group can get into a routine and fall into a rut.Continually doing the same thing,becoming tedious or stale.Our spiritual lives should not stand still and stagnate.Group members can lose interest and become apathetic.Stir or stagnate. How?
As a group leader it is good to take a spiritual health check.Get feedback from those who attend your group.This could involve a simple survey asking members to rate between 0-5 how much they benefited and enjoyed various aspects of group life eg. Worship,Teaching,Topics,Discussion,Fellowship,Outreach….
Sometimes it is good to take a break from curciculim and have a fun night or social event.
Make sure when choosing curriculim it`s` not just your pet topic,favourite Bible teacher/speaker nor just stick continually to the smae topic/speaker.Remember the purpose is to widen your vision and expand your knowledge of God taking the next steps in your journey with Him together.
Have an end goal,like do an outreach together,go on a weekend or have a day trip.
Small group leaders are not perfect.Like all believers they have weaknesses,make mistakes and wrong decisions but know and experience Gods grace.Leaders pursue excellence,intimacy with God and grow in their relationship with Jesus being changed to be more like Him.
QUALILITIES OF A GOOD LEADER.
1.AUTHENTIC.Be real.Just be yourself recognising you have unique gifts.Don`t perform or try to be someone you are not.Be sincere and transparent in your walk with God.
2.SERVANT HEART.Having an unselfish love for others expecting nothing in return and going the extra mile.Not looking to your own interests but others. PHIL.2:3,4.
3.SPIRIT FILLED.Just as an electric appliance without power is ineffective so too gifted leaders without the power of the Holy Spirit.Those who serve in the Early Church were full of the Holy Spirit.ACTS2:4 ; 4:8 ; 6:3,5.Draw strength,wisdom and power from the life of the Spirit.
4.TRUSTWORTHY.Good leaders provide a safe and honest environment for sharing.Keep a confidence and don1t gossip.Show respect and faithfulness to group members and leadership.
5.HONOUR LEADERS.Before leaders can lead they must have been led.Learned to be followers.The disciples where disciples of Jesus before they went on to make disciples of the nations.Good small group leaders honour,respect and love their local church leadership united with the local vision.
6.TEACHABLE.Leaders are god listeners and lean from others.They spend time gaining wisdom through study and the Holy Spirit.Never having a `know it all` or `having arrived` attitude.
7.SACRIFICAL.Have a commitment to give time for group meeting,preparation and prayer.Energised by a passion to serve God and others.
8.CELEBRATE.Enjoy leading.Celebrate God,His goodness and what He is doing in your group.Don`t be too busy,burdened with problems and have no joy.If you do not enjoy leading you will not lead well.Rest,relax and learn to laugh.
THE ROLE OF A SMALL GROUP LEADER.
1.Invit and meet people you think would connect to the group.Follow up on new and absent members.Leaders grow their own groups.
2.Implement the teaching series as set by your local `eldership`/leadership.If left to you as a group leader select a teaching curriculum that will take your group members on the next steps of their journey with God.Pray and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in choosing.
3.Pray and prepare for small group meeting ahead of time.
4.Pray regularly for your group members by name.Remember you burn out if you believe you are responsible for people transforming and growing.God does the work.
5.Be attentive to the needs of your group.Let God use your eyes and ears.Have discernment.
6.Pastoral Care-if sick,bereaved….inform local Pastoral leadership.As a group rally around members facing difficult circumstances.
7.Encourage group members to move one step at a time in their journey with God.Take a genuine interest in their progress.
8.Ask your group for feedback.Find out what they enjoyed of disliked and why?
9.Arrange social activities and fun.Celebrate for example birthdays and special occasions.
10.Look for and develop a co-leader to assist.Consult local leadership.This is particular beneficial if you are sick,an emergency arises and you are unavailable.Rather than cancel or change a group night it is good to be able to bring in the co leader.It`s important to develop a consistentrhythm of when you hold your group avoiding confusion.Don`t always host group at your home.
It goes without saying the greatest book or library of books is the Bible.God reveals Himself to man.Given by the inspiration of God,full of instruction,teaching,correction,direction and equips.2TIM.3:16,17.The Psalmist in Psalm119 describes its excellence.Love,read,meditate,sing,hear,keep and do it.Like water in a desert,a light in darkness and sweeter than honey is Gods Word.What is your favourite verse or passage??? It is always the last one God recently has spoken to me through.The one that stirs my spirit,grabs my heart,captivates my mind and fires a passionate delight for Him. As you walk with God there grows numerous favourites.
There are other books that have left an impression or made an impact on my life to some degree or other.The following I would recommend worth a read.The list is not exhaustive and does not mean I necessarily agree with everything the writer teaches or believes.Check them out…
THE NORMAL CHRISTIAN BIRTH David Pawson
THE NORMAL CHRISTIAN LIFE Watchman Nee
THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE Rick Warren
EXPERIENCING GOD Henry T Blackaby/Claude V King
DESTINED FOR THE THRONE Paul E Billheimer
THE HOLY SPIRIT IN YOU Dennis/Rita Bennett
THE RADICAL CHRISTIAN Arthur Wallis
VICTORY OVER DARKNESS Neil T Andreson
BECOMING A CONTAGIOUS CHRISTIAN Bill Hybels/Mark Mittelberg
TOUCHING THE INVISIBLE Norman Grubb
THE PURSUIT OF GOD A W Tozer
SURPRISED BY THE VOICE OF GOD Jack Deere
GODS CHOSEN FAST Arthur Wallis
THINKING FOR A CHANGE John C Maxwell
YOUR MONEY COUNTS Mark Lloydbottom
THE PILGRIM CHURCH E H Broadbent
THE NORMAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH Watchman Nee
SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP J Oswald Sanders
THE MAKING OF A LEADER Frank Damazio
RESTORATION IN THE CHURCH Terry Virgo
WHAT ON EARTH THIS KINGDOM? Gerald Coates
RAIN FROM HEAVEN Arthur Wallis
THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE BIBLE John Rea
UNLOCKING THE BIBLE David Pawson
THE SPIRITUAL MAN Watchman Nee
CHRIST THE HEALER F F Bosworth
WHAT WIVES WISH THEIR HUSBANDS KNEW ABOUT WOMAN James Dobson
THE SIXTY MINUTE MARRIAGE Rob Parsons
THE SIXTY MINUTE FATHER Rob Parsons
THE RAPTURE Richard R Reiter/Paul D Feinberg/Gleason L Archer/Douglas Moo
THE MEANING OF THE MILLENNIUM EDITOR:Robert G Clouse
REVELATION FOUR VIEWS : PARALLEL COMMENTARY EDITOR:Steve Gregg
During life at times we face situations in relationships,family,work,finances,church and ministry when we just do not know what to do.We either don`t know what choice to make or there is a lack of them.Sometimes we know what to do but questioning ourselves we end up being convinced we really don`t know what to do.So what should we do?
image courtesy of Stuart Mlies at FreeDigitalPhotos.com
Don`t panic,quit,run or hide.When in the dark reach out to God in trust.A child in uncertain surroundings slips their hand into their parents hand in trust.PSA.37:3,5 Trust in God….feed on His faithfulness….commit you way to the Lord.Trust also in Him.PRV.3:5,6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart.Lean not on your own understanding.In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.
We often focus on the problem of not knowing,over thinking it or we ask others including family and friends accumulating `opinions` BEFORE we ask God.Ask God FIRST.God does not want to keep you in the dark. JAS.1:5If any of you lack wisdom let him ask God who gives liberally.
3.DO WHAT GOD LAST TOLD YOU.
Do not let what you don`t know paralyse you from doing what you do know already to do.Whatever He has already revealed to you keep doing it.It is easier to steer a ship when it is moving. JAS.1:25 Don`t be a forgetful hearer.Be a doer.
4.MAJOR ON YOUR STRENGTHS.
What are you good at and what do you enjoy?God has given you talents and gifts that are unique to you.Spend your time on your strengths.Follow the 80/20% rule.Spend 80% of your time on your top 20% activities-John Maxwell.1COR.12:7,11 The Holy Spirit has given each of us gifts. Everything made has a purpose.The way you are is for the why you are. Eph.2:10 You are His workmanship and He has works prepared for you.
5.LEARN FROM EXPERIENCE.
Did I face this situation before?What worked?What mistakes did I make?Broaden your experience by learning from the experience of others.Receive insight from those who are a stage ahead of you.Learn from others successes and from their mistakes.John Maxwell-Make it a goal to find people who will add value to you in areas that are important to you. PROV.27:17 Iron sharpens iron. There are two types of people.Those who take and learn from instructions and those who have to learn by making their own mistakes.I would rather learn from others and their mistakes.
6.INCREASE YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF GODS WORD.
Knowledge is power-it increases options,possibilities and the ability to make choices.Know nothing=nothing.How strong is Gods Word in our lives?Read,speak,sing,study and meditate on Gods Word.JOSH.1:8 msg.Don`t for a minute let this book of revelation be out of your mind.Ponder meditate on it day and night making sure you practice everything in it.Then you will get where you are going then you`ll succeed.Without answers you will stay in the dark. PSA.119:105 Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.2TIM.3:16 All Scripture is God breathed profitable for showing truth,correcting
mistakes,providing training and instruction in living Gods way.My dad always said that the Bible was the best Citizen Advice Bureau.Kingdom answers for everyday life.Col.3:16 Let the Word of God dwell in you richly.
7.GET TO KNOW GOD.
Spend time in His presence getting to know God,His nature and heart.Intimacy with God.Worship Him.As you spend time in His company the Holy Spirit will form His character in you guiding you in making decisions.Similarly as a couple get to know each other they become `one flesh` and even when one alone faces a situation they often will know what the other would do in it.The Holy Spirit who is in you will search the deep things of God and teach you. 1COR.2:9-16.Often a married couple will know by the `look` in the eye of their partner what they are saying without them speaking a word.Psa.32:8-9 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.I will guide you with My eye.
In my late teens speaking to a church group in Tilbury, East London I remember outlining valid ways in which to express praise and worship to God.I gave Biblical examples of singing,shouting,clapping,lifting hands,playing musical instruments,bowing,dancing and leaping for joy.Afterwards an elderly woman approached me and commented,`Son it was good to hear Scriptural encouragement to express praise God in various ways but….` and I waited for the `but`….she continued`when you are in love with Jesus you will automatically express praise to God in those varying ways anyway.`It hit me ! I was trying to encourage and justify ways to express praise to God.I learned a lesson not to forget `Worship flows from a love relationship`.You do not have to encourage or prompt `the Kop` at Anfield to sing,shout and clap for Liverpool.The fans do it because they are passionate about football and their team.When you fall in love with someone you want to be in their presence,praise and show acts of kindness towards them.No wonder Jesus taught that the greatest and most important commandment is `to love God with all your heart,soul and mind and to love others` Matt.22:37-40 Deut.6:5 Acts of worship are to be carried out from a heart of desire and not out of duty.Believe in Jesus?The love of God has been poured into your heart. Rom.5:5. Love Him passionately and a life of worship will follow.Worship flows from a love relationship not a routine ritual.It is easy to respond to the love of someone and God loves you with an unmeasurable , unending and unmerited love.I love Him because He first loved me. 1John4:19. Jesus desires His people to open up their hearts and have fellowship with Him. Rev.3:20 ; John14:23 In a husband and wife relationship there are planned times to be alone together and to show affection but those spontaneous intimate moments are even more special.So too in our love relationship with God there is both a place for planned and spontaneous worship.It is not about our performance but our passsionate love for Him.He is the centre of our affections.Delight in the Lord.
My wife is called Shirley and I have a son called Daniel and daughters Grace and Lucy.We are related but we have more – we are friends, share, companionship -spend time with each other. God is looking for more than relationship He wants friendship/fellowship and not just emergency meetings-Lord I`m in trouble help me! or Lord I need….God wants to spend time with us.He wants us to spend time with Him.Jesus spent time alone with His Father.Jesus did not speak His own words but what His Father gave Him. Also He did what He saw His Father doing.John 5:19,20 ; 12:49 ; 14:10.Jesus speaking to a lukewarm church wanted more than a relationship in title but to have intimate fellowship.Rev.3:20 Behold I stand at the door and knock.If anyone hears My voice and opens the door I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me. Jesus said if we love Him He and the Father would make their home with us. John 14:23. God not only wants be be a Father to us but to walk among us. 2Cor.6:16.Enoch walked with God. Do you want to go on a walk?
When we go on a walk with someone we-
1.Set time aside for their company. God called Moses apart. Ex19.Separate from others and stuff. Spent time in Gods company.
2.Give attention to them.Things are happening around you traffic etc but you are together.
3.Walk and talk. Prayer is simply talking to God. Speak to Him.
4.Be yourself.When you walk and talk to a friend you don`t use fancy language or well picked words.Down to earth natural normal speech.Not all religious.
5.Listen.Nothing worse than spending time with someone who does all the talking and never listens to what you have to say.Talk to God and shut up. Listen. Learn to recognise the voice of the Holy Spirit.
6.No alternative motives.Yes its good to go for a walk with someone to get advice or get something off your chest but its good to walk and talk just for simple friendship.Tell Him you love Him.
IS HE CALLING YOU FOR A WALK AND TALK? The hand of the Lord was upon me there and He said to me Arise go out into the plain and their I shall talk with you. Eze 3:22