So, did you do it? Did you find a small group to join this week? If you’re still looking, this post has our list of TRANSFORMED small groups. We also have a Ladies Bible study that meets every other Thursday, and a men’s group who is on hiatus during the Transformed study.
If this is your first time in a small group, you may be wondering what to expect or how you are supposed to act. Or maybe you’ve been in small groups before and never really gotten anything out of them.
Why should this time be any different?
I’m so glad you asked.
This time is going to be different because you are going to be different. For one thing, you’re going to stick with it, making your small group a top priority in your life. As with so many other things, just showing up is half the battle. The more you are there, the more you will bond with your fellow group members, and the more beneficial the group will be for everyone.
The second thing that is going to be different about you is your attitude. Don’t go into this with a purely selfish outlook. Being in a small group is not just about yourself- it’s about everyone in the group. Be willing to compromise, be patient with your fellow group members and be pleased when anyone in the group is being helped, not just yourself.
Do not ask what your small group can do for you, but what you can do for your small group.
How You Can HELP Your Small Group
I usually try to steer away from acronyms, mostly because it seems like you always have to do some iffy word juggling to make it work. But this one jumped out at me, so I’m running with it. Hopefully you will too.
Honesty really is the best policy, and that goes double for small groups. You don’t have to pretend to be perfect here. The whole point is to find a safe place where you can share your struggles with other people. They will support you in your failures and celebrate with you in your triumphs. You don’t have to spill your guts the first time you attend. But open up a little bit at a time as you feel comfortable and you’ll be amazed at how beneficial a small group can be.
When other people are honest, be encouraging. Do not judge them for admitting to failures and do not try to come up with an instantaneous fix for their problem. Often the best encouragement you can give someone is to just let them talk through their troubles and assure them that you will pray for them as they work through this.
Everything you say in small group should be for the purpose of building up the other members. That means no gossiping with other members about someone else, no belittling others for mistakes they’ve made, and no arguing with other members. Disagree as much as you want, but do so in a friendly and civil manner.
In the same vein, accountability is part of a small group’s function, but you shouldn’t ever make another member feel like they’re under attack. Depending on what the issue is at hand, you might want to consider confronting them in a private setting before dragging it out in front of the group. Always seek to correct someone else in love and approach the subject with a humble attitude. Criticism is allowed, as long as it is constructive criticism.
Lock Your Lips
What is said in small group, stays in small group. That has to be an absolute. In fact, this should be the number one rule of any small group, but LHEP isn’t a word, so it goes third. See what I mean about acronyms?
In all seriousness, this is vital to the health of any small group. Your meeting has to be a safe place for people to be honest about their shortcomings. Everyone in the group has to be absolutely certain that nothing they confess to the other members will leave their inner circle. It will take time to develop that trust, so don’t try to force anyone into being more honest than they are ready for. Once that trust is established, it is a beautiful thing. It must be protected. If it is broken, it must be dealt with immediately. It may very well turn into a messy business. So just avoid it and honor the confidence of your group.
I mentioned this before, but the most important thing you can do for your small group is show up. Obviously you won’t get anything out of a meeting if you’re not there, but without your participation, the entire group will miss out. Make attending meetings a priority. Go when it’s inconvenient. Go when you’re feeling tired. Go when you’ve messed up and would rather hide in your closet. When you’re feeling on the edge is when you need your group the most.
On the flip side, go when you’re feeling good too. Don’t just show up when you need advice or want people to pray for you. Think of your group as an energy bank. When you’re run down, you can go to meetings and suck up some of the excess energy floating around. When you’re fully charged, you get to be the source of energy for another group member who may not be on top of their game that day.
A small group can be a beautiful thing. But like most beautiful things, it can take a lot of hard work to maintain. Put in the effort. I cannot stress enough how beneficial a healthy small group can be. When you throw yourself into one wholeheartedly, it will pay back your efforts in spades.
Do you have any other tips for maintaining a healthy small group? What about questions on small group etiquette? Funny stories on your small group’s growing pains? Whatever it is, share it in the comment section below!