By Tyler Quillet
2021 hasn’t changed too much from the 2020 that we experienced, has it? We continue to live with so many questions, so much heartache, and much trepidation. Between COVID and a heavily divided country, there’s a lot going on. So how do we respond to this in our group times and throughout the week as we engage with one another?
First, let’s address some of the fears that so many are facing:
- Will I still have a job in six months?
- Will I get COVID, and if so, what will happen to me?
- What if one of my loved ones gets COVID?
- What if the economy tanks?
- I’m scared to go to _______ because I might get COVID.
- How do I protect my family during this time?
- What if the unrest in our nation gets worse?
This list could go on all day, but these are just a number of the questions that bring much fear and anxiety. Without a doubt, these are fears and anxieties that have set up shop in the minds of your group members. As leaders, friends, and those desiring to point people to Jesus, how do we help combat these thoughts alongside others?
Jesus spoke to this. He gives us HIS peace. While the world gives us fear, anxiety and trepidation, Jesus gives real peace. That doesn’t mean the circumstances change or there aren’t things that could go wrong, but it means that when we place our full trust in Him, His Spirit will overwhelm our hearts with HIS peace.
“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.”
Not only does Jesus give us His peace, but He asks us to lay before Him all that burdens our hearts. And, as we do this, His peace will guard our hearts and minds.
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
So how do we lead our groups with this in mind?
If you are an open and transparent group, sharing your deepest fears and anxieties won’t be difficult. If transparency is a difficult thing for your group members, this is a good starting point. Ask each person to share their real fears or anxieties when it comes to all that we are dealing with in the world today. Allow tears, allow hard questions, and also allow silence or even a desire not to share. That’s ok. As group members share, stop, and “through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Spend time going to Jesus on behalf of your group members. Don’t take their fears lightly. While some of these concerns may not seem like something that’s worth being fearful about to you, it may be a deep anxiety that someone else is battling. Run to Jesus on their behalf and pray for them often.
Several years ago, my wife and I were about to embark on an incredibly scary journey. It was a life transition that we were unsure of and it brought us much fear of the unknown. As we shared our deepest fears with our small group, one of our other leaders asked if they could all stand around us and pray. They took our requests to God and we were SO overwhelmed by God’s peace. I’ll never forget that moment when my “people” took so seriously the fears we had that they immediately ran to Jesus with them on our behalf. And God was faithful to grant us His peace.
As you move forward in life while also feeling “stuck” in difficult times, give your group members opportunities to pour out their fears. As they do so, go to the throne on their behalf. Purpose to continue to check in on their hearts after your formal group time has ended. Be sure to also allow time in your group for praise in how God has overwhelmed your hearts with His peace.
These are difficult days. Watch your group grow together as you share your fears, run to Jesus in trust, and praise Him for the peace of heart He gives.
Tyler Quillet is the discipleship strategist for the Custom Church Resources team at Lifeway Christian Resources. He lives in the Nashville, Tenn. area with his incredible wife, Cathie, and two boys, Cylas and Bowen. Tyler also speaks, writes, and coaches alongside Cathie as they pour into and care for those battling infertility through Cathie’s, The Quillet Institute. Tyler previously spent 15 years as a pastor and is passionate about serving churches and pouring into church leaders in a variety of ways.