October 31, 2012
Helpful tips from the Nines conference
Last week I had the privilege of virtually attending the Nines conference, which featured many different pastors and leaders discussing hot topics over two days. One interesting topic covered was handling rogue leaders. Brian Tome from Crossroads Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, offered tips—things he learned the hard way as he dealt with this difficult issue—and two really stood out to me.
First, he said it's crucial that we say the hard things before it's hard to say. In other words, make your expectations clear and speak up about the problem from the beginning. Don't wait until the problem is out of control.
Second, it's important that we play biblical instead of nice. That took a second to sink in for me, but it's true. If we're more concerned about being nice than handling things in the way Scripture instructs, we're essentially rogue leaders ourselves.
If you lead a small-group ministry or coach leaders, you're bound to experience a few rogue leaders, but these two tips can help minimize the impact. If we're clear from the beginning about our expectations, we set a solid foundation. And if leaders step outside those boundaries, we can call them on it. Plus, if we're willing to have the hard conversations at the first hint of something gone astray, we may be able to nip it in the bud.
The second tip becomes key when the situation has developed and we have to deal with it. That's hard to live by for relational small-group ministers and coaches like us. Too often, though, the reason we try to be nice is to protect ourselves: we're afraid of what the leader will say to or think of us, or how uncomfortable we'll feel. If, though, we focus on our love for the other person rather than our own comfort, it may be easier to "play biblical."
What have you found helpful in dealing with rogue leaders? Share with us below.
Plus, check out Ministering to Struggling Small-Group Leaders for tips from others.
October 24, 2012
Don't overlook this incredible opportunity.
As we create our discussion questions, clean the house, and make sure someone's bringing a snack, we may forget an important opportunity that we small-group leaders have: to add value to our group members, to build them up and encourage them.
Heather Zempel, author of Community Is Messy, is incredibly intentional about investing in people and adding value to them. In this article she lists seven ways leaders can invest in others such as make their day, listen, and approach every person as someone who can teach you something.
Read the full article and let us know what you do to invest in your group members.
October 18, 2012
Consider healthy boundaries with group members.
One of the most common questions I hear from small-group leaders is, "How much should I share with my group members?" We leaders worry that we'll share too much, scaring away our group members. On the other hand, we worry that we haven't shared enough in order to model vulnerability. Then, throw on the fact that sometimes what's bothering us is a situation that we've been made privy to only because of our leadership position.
In Healthy Boundaries for Small Groups, our newest Training Tool, Will Johnston offers some wise advice. As the Group Catalyst for National Community Church in Washington, D.C., he's run into this question a few times himself. Here's how he responds:
The question isn't, "What is appropriate to share with my small group?" The answer to that is everything. Everything is up for disclosure and discussion.
Rather, the question is, "What should I share with my small group at this moment in my development and in the development of the group?"
In a group where bonds are strong, where ties go deep, where there is trust and love among the members, it may be appropriate to share your deepest, darkest secret with the entire group. In a group that has just formed, where people may not even know each other's names, you probably don't want to unload every hurt and hang-up you have.
I love that he changes the question so that it's not about us anymore—it's about our group members and their edification. Read the rest of his wisdom on how to share transparently and appropriately in Healthy Boundaries for Small Groups.
October 17, 2012
Six steps to a new missional focus
What does it take to get your small group on mission? Carter Moss breaks it down to six steps: cast vision, covenant together, commission groups, create new rhythms, coach leaders, and communicate missional stories. They're not easy steps, but they will move your small group in the right direction. Plus, they create momentum: as you communicate missional stories, you'll cast vision, and that will entice more people to join in God's mission.
And before you knock the "six simple steps" approach, know that Moss serves as the Small Group Champion for Community Christian Church's 12 campuses, and he's led their small groups into missional living. While he admits he's still learning a lot, he's happy to share these tips with you. Plus, view his video on troubleshooting common issues groups face when making the move to missional living.
October 11, 2012
Why one person says it's bound to fail
Mike Breen, a pioneer in the missional movement, has an intriguing new blog post out: “Why the Missional Movement Will Fail.” The article certainly caught my attention.
Instead of denouncing his life focus over the last few decades, Breen says that focusing on mission is like ogling a beautiful car with no engine. The engine of missional living, says Breen, is discipleship, and if we don’t focus on building up disciples, our missional efforts will most certainly fail. His point: missional living can’t be done in a “vacuum outside of knowing God and being shaped by that relationship.”
As small-group leaders we have an urgent responsibility. We must help our small-group members see that missional living is essential—but only as an outflow of a vibrant relationship with Christ. Missional living isn’t just something that we do because we’re supposed to do it. Instead, we’re compelled to live missionally because we are who we are in Christ. What God is doing inside us flows out as missional living. Let’s not switch the order of these two.
October 10, 2012
Is it ever okay?
All small groups seem to have some interesting group members, people who change the dynamics of the group--and not for the better. But most of the time, getting the meeting back on track is just a matter of learning a few tactics to regroup and refocus the individual member and the group.
On the other hand, some groups will have a particularly difficult member. So I want to know: Is it ever okay to ask a group member to leave the group? And if so, what are the circumstances that make it okay? Share your thoughts with us below.
October 8, 2012
Working within the structure to make the most of your role
For several years, I had the privilege of serving on the pastoral staff team of a small church.
I was the only woman.
The men I worked with were incredibly gracious and worked hard to include me, regardless of my gender. And I'm so thankful for all the ways God used our team as we ministered together.
But some churches aren't as gracious toward women in leadership roles. If you've found yourself in a situation where you're the only woman in a leadership position at your church, you'll appreciate "Making the Most of Your Role" from our sister ministry, Gifted for Leadership. Give it a quick read and consider how to make the most of your role in a trying situation.
What tips do you have for other women in this position? Share with us below.
October 5, 2012
Free playlists to use with your small group
Ever notice how well music can set the mood? Bring the power of music to your small-group meetings. Playing upbeat worship music as you gather and catch up sets the tone for praise. Playing Christmas music during a holiday gathering sets the tone for festive fun. And playing slow, meaningful songs during your meeting sets the tone for serious reflection.
To help you set the tone for your next meeting, SmallGroups.com has been creating some free playlists for you on Grooveshark. We'll be adding more playlists in the coming weeks. Our first playlist for you is our Confession and Forgiveness playlist, which is perfect to use with Fiery Forgiveness, an activity on confession and forgiveness from Keri Wyatt Kent.
Use our free playlists at your next meeting, and let us know what you think.