The Path to a Healthy Group, Part One

Leadership is influence and therefore you are the lead influencer of your growth group. If you are anything like me you may find yourself asking what do I do? How do I influence them? What areas do I focus on? How is this group going to get healthy? In order for growth groups to be healthy, growing both spiritually and numerically leaders need to have a path to follow, stepping stones if you will to guide the group. A tool by which they can evaluate the direction and progress of their group.
There is one thing that is bound to happen without a plan in place. More than likely as a leader you will hear the expectations that are placed on you and you will become overwhelmed. After becoming overwhelmed we then become discouraged because you believe there is no way you can live up to the expectations. As a result you simply begin to emphasize the things that fall within your strengths. If you are a really friendly person and love to hang out with people then more than likely your group will be strong on caring for each other but really weak on the teaching aspect. Or maybe you love to teach, ex- plaining the word of God to your group and as a result your group will be really strong on truth but perhaps weak on outreach or care of group members. The goal is balance, having groups that are equally focused on praying, care, outreach and teaching. When this balance comes groups will become healthy and reach their potential for growth.
This series of articles intends to lay out an organic path to help your group move towards balance and health. The reason “organic” is used is because the goal is not to give you every nut and bolt on the how to’s but rather to give you the overarching principles. The leader then can take and apply these principles to their group with its setting and uniqueness’ and find the most success. The encouraging thing is that this path does not require a certain kind of leader. Whether you are and intro-vert, extrovert, organized or disorganized is irrelevant. What matters is whether or not you work hard to implement these different aspects into your group.
The path we have laid out has two major sec-tions, first covering leaders and then covering the group. When we talk about the leader we want a pray-ing leaders focused on empowering disciples.
I was talking to a pastor about small groups and he said one of the greatest benefits to groups is the ability to develop leaders or as stated above to develop “empowered disciples.” The leader also needs to be connected to and dependent on Jesus for the ability to lead or else we will have groups that are not Spirit led. The growth of disciples will only be real if it is the work of the Spirit in our lives.
The second part of the plan focuses on the group. This part has been further broken down into the the following five categories:
A Praying group: Groups need to be praying together. They need the Lord to be at work in their lives and they need to ask. Groups need to pay attention to the climate of the group by the types of prayer requests that are brought up. We learn the burdens of the heart through the requests of the people.
Word Focused: The word of God will help us grow in the way that God wants us to grow. Groups will not be about what we think but what God thinks. People’s needs and situations need to be ministered to by the Word of God.
Covenanted Together: Acts 2 tells us about the early church and the commitment they had to one another. They were so committed that they met daily and were willing to sell their possessions to give to others. Members of groups need to be taught what commitment looks like and the leaders need to model it for them.
Caring Environment: Groups is the primary place that we care for the needs of one another. Everyone needs to grow to under-stand that if they are not connected to a group then there is a good chance that needs that arise in their life may go unmet. They will go unmet not because we do not care but because they are not committed to a group. Groups will always be best situated to celebrate with those who celebrate and to hurt with the hurting. Each week members should walk away knowing that they are loved and cared for.
Reach Out: The church is called to share the gospel and to spread the kingdom of God. The groups need to be mobilized to do that. This can happen through service projects in the community or by reaching out to their neighbors in love and praying for opportunities to share the gospel with them. Groups can also hold events that are conducive to inviting those not connected with the church. Then praying that they would experience the love of God and want to become a part of the group.
This is an organic path that leaders can implement to help their group become healthy. This is hard stuff but as each area is encouraged and grows within the group the leader will be greatly rewarded as they see members loving God and each other more. Take some time and begin to think through your group. How is it doing in each of these areas? Begin brain-storming ways that you can help your group grow in the areas that seem weak. Ask members of your group to think through these areas and to give you feedback as to where they believe the group is strong and week.
Over the next few weeks each of the areas mentioned above will be laid out with more detail and with suggestions on how to have your group grow in these areas. One final encouragement is in order. If you as a leader is not regularly praying for your group as a whole and for each member then that is the first thing you need to do. Leader invite God to lead your group, beg Him to invade the hearts of every member, that your group might see the mighty acts of God and bear every good fruit that He has planed out for them.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “The Path to a Healthy Group, Part One

  1. Dale

    Thank you for sharing Wade. God has given me an opportunity to start a group of one; this will help get it right :). Good stuff son

  2. Great article. I especially liked the beginning where you talked about how groups can often become no more than social gatherings or, at the other end of the spectrum, no more than bible studies. I was reminded of 1 Corinthians, Romans, and Ephesians where Paul talks about how God gives gifts to his people to enable them to do his work both internally (within the church) and externally (within the world). Far too often groups focus on one “spiritual gift” and then the group becomes defined by that gift rather than by the mission of God’s kingdom.

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