Ahh September... backpacks, sunsets, SMALL GROUPS
Maybe you're thinking of joining in with a growth group this Fall at Lightway Church? It might be the best decision you make all year. Personally, and I've heard it countless times from others, I do my best growing in groups of other believers from my church.
But there are dangers that can de-rail a growth group that we've probably all been guilty of at one time or another. Here's four of them, each with a prescribed antidote:
Danger One: The "Just the Facts" Group
This group uploads a lot of content but never applies it personally, specifically, or measurably. Ideas and answers are shared but there is little time spent on answering the questions: "What are you going to do about it?" and "Did you do what you said you were going to do?"
Antidote: Try a group application project. At your next study, let scripture lead you to make an application of its truth in a way that you can all participate. Want to grow in helps? Why not make meals together for the family with a new baby and deliver them once a week for a couple of months? Want to grow in encouragement? Why not write encouragement cards to leaders in the church as a group? Want to grow in Christian witness? Why not work together to help a group member host a neighbourhood BBQ, or a CAP Money Course for friends and neighbours?
Danger Two: The "Friendly Takeover" Group
This group finds itself at the mercy of whoever has the strongest agenda that day. Members attend with their ideas of what they want to talk about. Others are stuck in one of two places, they either can contribute and get in, or can't contribute and stay quiet.
Antidote: Create a forum for "tabled issues." Keep some cue cards handy and whenever someone has a burning question or issue that isn't the focus of the text at hand write it down on the cue card to discuss later. Maybe there's room for an "after-party" at your group for folks interested in tackling the questions. Maybe once a month you start your group early with dinner and pass a few cards out around the table for conversation. The goal is to have everyone come to a small group thinking about how to help and encourage others. During your group time, ensure everybody gets a chance to reflect and answer questions about the text.
Danger Three: The "Dude!" Group
This group majors on fellowship and minors on scripture and prayer. This group struggles to get intentional and down to the business of helping each other listen to God's word.
Antidote: Dive in right away. Appoint a leader who will hold the group to start on time and to work through the study questions, one at a time, in order, to everybody in the group. Stick to the agreed-on time frame, and backload the fellowship for the end.
Challenge Four: The "All Business" Group
This group might do everything right, successfully avoiding dangers 1-3, but fail to exhibit warmth and develop friendship. These groups usually don't last long because members can't relax, be themselves, or talk about "extras."
Antidote: Have dinner. A group like this should plan to have some regular meals or appetizers together before or after the group starts. Food has a way of bringing people together and creating a comfortable space beyond the formality of meeting time.
The Holy Spirit enables fellowship, prayer, and scripture to be a fruitful combination in the life of a church as they meet together. At Lightway, I've been advocating a small group model called "Discovering God Bible Studies" that I've learned from others. Check out the intro video to get a sense of what happens when groups follow this model.