| Ihor Zhakunets
This is a list of expectations that small-groups often forget or ignore. This list comes from a survey of small-group leaders (from MHC and other churches). We hope that it serves as a helpful reminder. Here are five things your small-group leader wants to remind you about…
1. You’re not a spectator. Your participation matters. God uses your experiences, voice, insight into his Word, your weakness and strengths to build others up. Engage. Don’t sit on the sidelines as a spectator. We have different personalities, different comfort levels when it comes to speaking up, and different emotional capacities to pursue people but with all this taken into account we must find a way to participate, to speak the truth in love so that other Christians can grow spiritually (Eph. 4:15-16).
2. Small-Group is a means to community. It is a means to something bigger – it’s not just a ninety-minute meeting. It’s a purposeful opportunity to live life together. It’s a context to love one another. So take advantage of this opportunity. You cannot have a deep relationship with everyone in the church but small-group will give you a regular means to love people that are outside your natural network of relationships. Make it a point to care for this group of people, pray for them, and take an interest in one another’s families. Make it a habit of being in each others’ lives when moving day comes, when flowers of condolence need to be sent to a funeral home, or when meals need to be prepared to give new parents a break.
3. Curb advice. It’s not that advice is bad or not needed. It’s that we need to limit our practical suggestions to make space to actually apply God’s Word. Don’t start with personal convictions and advice – start with God’s Word and then with humility flesh out those principles with your counsel. Remember the wisdom and power we need is in his Word. For you to be ready to apply the Word, you need to take seriously the task of processing and meditating on the passage we study together that previous Sunday.
4. Get off your phone. Be present. You are already investing the time to be at small-group – really be there. Listen, make eye contact, speak, pray, etc. Don’t daydream, do not be thinking about tomorrow’s meeting. Your distractedness is discouraging to others. Being present also means being there. Don’t skip small-group. Your absence sends a message. Small-group is a strategic way we can fulfill the command in Heb. 3:13 to regularly be present in one another’s lives.
5. Take a risk. Share something significant. Opening up our lives, being vulnerable, confessing sin, are all marks of a strong Christian community. Too often we settle for tepid calculated remarks – just enough to give the illusion that we want people to know us. For the sake of rich community and the health of your soul share something meaningful, something that takes courage and demands trust to say. Only then will you have the chance to marvel at the God-given grace and wisdom of Christ’s church as they respond with truth in love to you.
Which of these reminders are easy to forget? Which ones are you tempted to ignore? Which do you need to focus on to serve your small-group?