By Mark Howell, Small Group Expert
The optimal environment for life change is a small group. We've all heard that line for years. Most of us have said that line so frequently that it is now an automatic response when we hear a counter opinion. And yet...is it really true? And if it is true, is it a given? Or does something have to happen to cause the life change? If it is true, what are the conditions that make it true?
These are your questions too, right? If you're the small group expert at your place, aren't these questions at least bubbling up from time to time when it's really quiet in your office? I know this has been a steady inner dialogue for me over the last years. Don't get me wrong. I believe that the optimal delivery system for life change is a small group. You can read a little more right here about what I think.
I just have gotten to the point where I'm very pragmatic about the steps that lead to life change. See...I've found that it's not automatic. There are some ingredients that must be present to produce life change. You know it too. Here's one of the most important ingredients: Whatever you want to happen at the member level, must be part of the experience of the leader.
Another way that I say it is that "whatever you want to happen at the member level you have to do to and for the leader of the group." Here's what I mean. If you want the members of your groups to feel cared for, then the leader of the group will have to know how to care for them and actually do that. After all, a person can only give away what they already have. Does that make sense?
Here's another. If you want your members to experience loving accountability, then the leader of the group will have to know how to do that and then actually do it. How will that happen? The leader will have to be experiencing that in their own life. Are you tracking? It's a no-brainer, right? Makes sense, doesn't it?
Whatever you want to happen at the member level, you have to do to and for the leader of the group. The leader can only give away what they have. And what follows naturally is this question: How will the leaders of your groups experience what you want them to be able to give away? My contention? Somehow you will have to do to and for your leaders whatever you want them to provide to the members of your groups. End of story.
How will that happen? Because of the limitations imposed by span of care realities, in most cases you will not be able to personally provide that to all your group leaders. After all, "everyone needs to be cared for by someone, no one can care for more than about 10." The obvious answer to this dilemma is some kind of coaching or mentoring solution. In that obvious answer is a whole series of posts.
But here's the point for starters. Whatever you want to happen at the member level must begin in you. Ultimately, it begins with you. If you're running on fumes, if you're only what you need to be on the very surface of your life, that's what you'll have to give away. And that my friends is at the core of the life change question.
Reprinted with permission by MarkHowellLive.com Mark is the Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. He's also the founder of a Small Group consulting and coaching service that helps churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries.
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