Sue (*name is changed for privacy) said to me, "I have made a commitment that I will always have group. I will never cancel. I will always have my home open so that the 'attendance issue' is off the table." Her resolve was tested when school was canceled, her kids were home, and the snow was falling hard. But you know what? She kept the scheduled meeting and every single person in her group showed up! Through her actions I think she sent a clear message that said, "I am committed to your spiritual growth in Christ." She has determined to make her leadership a consistent, dependable, and predictable part of their growth toward Christ. God is so faithful to us. When life is up or life is down, He is the same. I think Sue is reflecting His consistency. Who wouldn't like a small group leader like that?
Lesson #1: Great small groups provide a predictable environment for people to be encouraged and equipped.
The Smith's*, a couple who have been leaders for some time now, are individualizing the growth and care for another couple in their group. Some coffee time in a local restaurant, a phone call here and there, and some additional reading resources have tailored the growth need for this couple who is facing some new challenges. When I found a DVD small group curriculum that might be helpful, the Smith's were even willing to meet with the couple in a private, separate group from the regular community group!
Lesson #2: Great small groups provide personal and individualized growth and care, within the context of community.
Finally, I was talking to a student who leads a small group for G3. Joe* said, "I'm realizing why Bill Hybel's named his book Courageous Leadership...there is no other kind! Everyone should have to lead at least one thing. They will learn more about themselves through leading one thing than they might learn about themselves in 20 years!"
Spiritual growth always takes courage. If we are new to spiritual growth, it will take courage to begin the journey. If we have been a Christian for a while, it will take courage to see yourself as a leader, and then BE a leader. Leading ourselves and leading others always takes courage and tests our faith, it challenges our trust in God. This courage is the basis for living out the Christian adventure. I'm glad Joe is living the adventure of leadership, rather than selling out for a consumer Christianity!
Lesson #3: Great small groups provide a courageous faith journey for everyone, even the leader.