Small Groups are Great...?
Small groups are great...and then the people show up.
Once upon a time we heard a pastor give a stirring message on the theological, ecclesiological, and practical importance of life in community and we left with a newfound conviction that small groups are great. An announcement was made from the pulpit about the need for new small group leaders, and we decided to put our convictions into practice because we were convinced both spiritually and experientially that small groups are great. We courageously attended leadership training classes and left with a passion to change the world through the greatness of groups. We saw our group promoted in print, in word, in pictures and we approached the night of our first meeting with a holy anticipation. Small groups are great!
And then people walked through the door.
It might not happen on the first night. It might not happen in the first month or even in the first year, but at some point, our well-tended "great" group experience begin to fall apart. The chairs are set, the snacks are ready, the lesson is prepared, the service project is planned... we are doing everything we need to do as a leader. And all of a sudden, we realize that there are some things no one ever told us about leading small groups. The nice thoughts about growth and friends and transparency and community fade into the newfound realization that groups are messy.
What do you do at that moment? The moment you realize that groups are messy will become the defining moment of your leadership.
Here's the scary news: small groups are messy because groups are made up of people and people are messy. Community is messy because it’s about broken people hauling their brokenness and stink and baggage and moving in with you.
Here's the good news: mess might be exactly where God wants you to be to become the person and the community that he created you to be.