by Dave Enns
What makes a great small group meeting? Would you say it’s new insights into God’s Word, a life lesson shared, or quality prayer time? Is it confessed sin, tears, laughter, food, or maybe mere survival? No doubt, when any of these happen, I get pumped as a leader as I get to see first-hand the power of the Spirit working.
Of course, these are all good questions to consider when evaluating the quality of our group gatherings. But as most of us know, these results also don’t show up on a week-to-week basis in any group. Here are two more questions that have had a simple yet profound effect on helping our leaders evaluate their groups time and create the glue that creates an environment for life-changing connections.
You ready for this? Here they are:
- Are we hearing from everyone in our group every time we meet?
- Is God’s Word at the center of each meeting?
Sound too simple? At times, I still wonder if that’s the case. Before you stop reading and decide those two questions aren’t spiritual enough, hang with me for a minute on this one. These questions sure seem to be an effective tool since we’ve been emphasizing this repeatedly with our group leaders! For today’s post, let’s take a couple minutes to unpack the first of these two questions.
Imagine that every time your group meets, everyone participates—each person has a chance to engage at a level they feel comfortable at. What would the result be? Everyone valued each time you gather? People realizing their presence is important? Each person being heard and the dominator/over-sharer quieted? That’s starting to sound like the engaging and encouraging community Hebrews 10:24-25 is talking about. That’s the kind of community where a person makes sure they return and they don’t quit. It’s a place where people begin to open up and share the real struggles of life, and able to weather a conflict. It’s an environment where they can trust each other enough to confess and admit they’ve blown it too! It’s the kind of community they learn to pray together, read the word, and live out their faith!
This is also the kind of community the enemy does not want to see happen. He knows there is power in numbers and will do whatever he can to stop it. His obvious attack is through sin and addiction. These are what we rightfully fight against and most easily identify as the culprit to community.
Yet, it’s his subtle attack that is often more powerful than we realize. And frankly, all too often we don’t think it’s that big of a deal. What is the subtle strategy? Keep the follower of Jesus isolated! Even when they are in a group. Isolation is the perfect strategy against the believer because it can be disguised or justified as an independent spirit or just not into the “group” thing. It’s not a “sin”, so is it really something we need to aware of? Yes, because it leaves the follower of Jesus without the power of real-time encouragement, support, and accountability to not only follow Jesus, but also help as many as possible do the same.
So next time you meet with your leaders you may want to spend some answering this simple question. What would happen if you heard from everyone every time your groups meets? And maybe more importantly, what happens if you don’t?
Dave Enns has been on staff at North Coast Church (the Sticky Church) since 1990 and is the lead pastor of their Small Groups Ministry. He oversees a team of 25 staff, 1,400 lay leaders and over 6,000 who attend their home groups.