You don’t want your small group to fail. That’s not why you got into this. You want your group to succeed. You want people to grow and thrive in your group.
You want your group to be the one that people can’t wait to show up to. The one they talk to their friends about. The one that, in 10 years, they look back and say, “That group changed my life.”
You don’t want people to dread your small group every week. To feel like they just have to come. To view it as a waste of time. To be the group of which they say, “Don’t join a small group. Mine is terrible.”
There’s a certain amount of your group’s success that you can’t control. God’s going to choose to bless or not. He’s going to sovereignly inspire group members to engage…or not. His hand of favor will be there…or not.
But there are statements you can make, personally, that will inevitably tank your group. That will guarantee you’ll get nothing out of it, and that you’ll create a terrible experience for the rest of your group. Statements that will destroy community rather than foster it.
Here, then, are nine statements that will destroy your group:
1. They need community more than I do. I’m just doing this for them.
You need healthy, authentic community as much as anyone does. You’re never above it, because God’s created you to live dependent on others.
2. They need to hear this.
Be careful that as you’re preparing for your small group that you don’t work your way through the material making notes about who in your group needs to hear a given truth…an not including your own name. Pride comes before the fall, my friend (Prov. 16:18).
3. I don’t have anything to give.
There may be weeks occasionally that you are empty and dry. But God’s given you gifts that are perfectly suited to lead your group. Don’t spit on God’s grace in your life by feigning a false, self-deprecating humility.
4. I don’t have time for this.
You are busy. So am I. You and I don’t have time to avoid community. The busier we are, the more we need others speaking truth and hope into our lives. When you say this, you place yourself over and above your group members, pridefully believing your life is more important than theirs.
5. Someone else will call them.
Don’t assume that someone else is going to call and encourage your group members. Or visit them in the hospital. Or call them after a new job interview. Or text them after a test. They’re not going to. You need to do the work of shepherding that’s vital for a group leader.
6. What they need is a ‘perfect’ leader. I probably shouldn’t confess my sins here.
Perfection in a small group leader isn’t what’s needed. And in fact, group members will connect with you more over your struggles and difficult times than they ever will with you through your victories. Be open and honest when you mess up.
7. Because I’m the leader I should probably talk more.
No. No. No. The best group leaders listen way more than they talk. Listening, and giving an appropriate (rather than a forced, canned, expected) response is much more honoring, respectful, and helpful. “To answer before listening – that is folly and shame.” – Proverbs 18:13
8. Curriculum? Pssht! I got this!
Don’t think that curriculum is evil. It’s not. It provides a backdrop for your group to have a conversation about truth. It’s not the end-all-be-all for your group. But it helps keep you on track and moving forward. Don’t think you’re “too good” for a focused study.
9. Evangelism? Nope.
Quit thinking too narrowly about the Gospel or too weakly about it or too superficially about the power of the Gospel to change lives.