By Jon Brown
I recently had a coaching conversation with one of our most effective small group leaders who is phenomenal at discipling students. He is so effective, in fact, that he has recently multiplied his small group into two thriving small groups. He shared with me that his small group was growing and thriving, yet his soul was shriveling and dying. You see he was not in biblical community himself. He was all in as a leader. He knew exactly how to teach students the importance of modeling community, but he had failed at leading himself. He was in the beginning stages of burn out.
As I coached and mentored him on his own need for small group community while sipping on my hot pumpkin macchiato, I began to realize how I also lacked and longed for more community after taking a break for the summer with our own personal small group.
I wonder how many are sitting in the very same place? We may be good at preaching about small groups and community while being awful at truly practicing what we preach.
I know, I know. Let the litany of excuses ensue. You don’t have time. You plan on getting started when your schedule clears up a little more. You have community with your leadership team. You aren’t even sure who you would have in your small group. You don’t need one more thing to plan and lead. The list can go on and on. But maybe you too find yourself leading a vibrant and growing ministry at the high cost of a shriveled and dying soul.
Allow me to give you five tips you can apply today to get yourself back on track and into a small group community. I promise it’s way easier than you think, and the results will be more than worth it:
1. Just start
The first step is often the hardest step. There is no time like the present and no excuse that is good enough. Just make up your mind and determine that this is your week to make biblical community a priority for yourself.
2. Pray about the right people
When launching our personal small group, we brainstormed names of who all would fit well together. Then we laid all those names before God, and prayed for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and direction. I will be honest with you; they were not all of my first choices and closest friends. They are a mix of people from all different backgrounds, ages, and stages of life that have quickly become a tight knit group of friends. We absolutely love this group of friends that God has placed around us!
3. Map out your calendar
We like are like you. We are kind of busy. Ok. We are really busy. So we decided that we would meet every other week with our small group. This is a perfect mix for our busy family and ministry schedule. We sat down for one hour at the beginning of the school year and mapped out our entire bi-weekly small group schedule through the summer. This helped us to prioritize our small group time into our lives and also allows our group the opportunity to plan in fun events together.
4. Don’t feel the need to lead
We told our group from the beginning that we did not desire to lead one more thing. I think we all can relate to the feeling that with all that we have to lead, it is nice to sometimes just enjoy being a participant and not the one that everyone is looking to for leadership. Not only is that desirable, it is necessary. You need to be a part of environments where you are also being poured into. Our group is completely cool with us just being one of them. So we all decided that we would take turns leading on a rotational basis.
5. Have fun!
Sometimes we need to throw the agenda out the door and just laugh a little. Some of my best moments and memories in small group are when we do nothing but talk and laugh for two hours straight! I walk away from those moments with my soul feeling refreshed. I don’t need one more thing to plan, so we let our group plan the fun together. We lock these fun events into our yearly small group calendar as well, and empower couples in our group to take the lead.
Jon Brown serves as the Lead Student Pastor at Journey Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin.