An Encouraging Word

I opened my e-mail today to find this message,

"I just wanted to touch bases with you and keep you updated about our group.  We met last night for the first time.  I was VERY nervous going into it, as I have never led a small group before, but I think things went well.  We have a little group, but I think it'll work best for each of us participating.  We're keeping things low-key, because we all seem a little skittish.  Onward and upward!"

Later, a small group host texted me saying,

"Reason #47 for having a small group:  It forces you to keep your house clean! (they r coming in 5 minutes!)

It can be a lot of effort to have a small group!  The work, anxiousness and questions cause us to wonder if it's worth it. "Will anyone come?"  "Will they come back?" "Will I lead it right?" "Will they like it?" Then there's the calls about scheduling conflicts and cancelations.  You may even feel a little put-out that their effort doesn't seem to be matching your own.  If you haven't felt these things yet, you probably will.  Remember, these are VERY normal feelings.  I have them all the time, though it gets easier the more you host small groups.  I have found a few tips (there are many more) that keep me going.

1.  You are part of a team effort that includes many, many small group leaders who are working with you to be salt and light in our region. You are reaching people in a unique way that a church service cannot do. This "team" also includes centuries of Christians (read Hebrews 11 and 12) who have met in their homes to love, learn and live the Word of God.

Colossians 1:6 says, "This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world.  It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God's wonderful grace."

2.  You will begin to experience new spiritual growth.  Nothing grows our spirituality like taking small steps in leadership.  You'll be forced to grapple with the depth of your faith, because it takes work and commitment.  Whether it is cleaning house or hosting a group, spiritual leadership is not as distance and supernatural as we often think of it.  The urgency of responsibility will cause you to grow more quickly.  But this is what we want, isn't it?  Who wants a watered-down, slow-moving faith?  I heard a great quote once:

"Leadership will take you kicking and screaming where you really want to go!"

You will grow more when you host...lots more!...than if you just attend or participate.

Philippians 2:13  "For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him."

3.  You will pray with a new humility and awareness.  Spirituality for all of us comes from Jesus and we need our confidence to rest fully in Him.

Philippians 1:6  "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

4.  Keep things "low-key."  No one likes a know-it-all, so don't be one.  Leaders are learners too.

5.  Enjoy the journey.  It's about the people, not the program.  People have life journeys they are living.  Your program is important, but it must be flexible to people's real life.  After all, God is flexible to meet us in our ordinary life.

6. Share your journey with other leaders.  It helps to hear another leader say "Onward and upward!"

7.  There are bonuses to small groups that must be celebrated!  Friendships gained.  Prayers answered.  Truth spoken.  ...And a clean house!

Let's pray for each other from Philippians 1:

"that our love will overflow more and more and that we will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding."

Have a great week and, as always, keep in touch!