If you have been in the church world for any length of time, you probably have attended a small group. Ideally, being involved in a small group allows you to develop close relationships with a few folks whom you see on a regular basis. It’s one of the primary ways that churches provide discipleship for their members. There is a depth of intimacy and support that happens in a small group that just doesn’t happen in the church at large.
But let’s be honest: sometimes small groups aren’t that great. I’ve been in a lot of small groups over the years, and some of them have been pretty rough. I remember in one small group I attended, everyone stayed on the surface. We would discuss a topic or passage of the Bible, but we didn’t share anything deep or personal about how that topic or passage applied to our lives. When people shared prayer requests, it was mostly about other people who were sick or struggling. There wasn’t much depth, and because of that, I didn’t feel close to the other group members, and I didn’t get much out of the group.
I remember another group I attended, I finally worked up the courage to share about some things I was struggling with, because I wanted the group’s help and support. Unfortunately, I think the group leader might have been uncomfortable with what I shared, because he pretty much just said that what I was doing was a sin, and we quickly moved on to a different subject. I felt like he judged me before trying to understand what was going on with me.
I remember yet another group I attended, there was some conflict between the group leader and one of the group members. We didn’t really talk about the conflict as a group, but one day I learned that the group member had gotten kicked out of the group. Some of the group members were mad about that decision, and the group fell apart shortly after that.
Yikes! Church small groups have the potential to be a place where people can experience intimacy, support, healing, and growth, but the process can also be difficult and messy. Furthermore, small group leaders often don’t have enough training to lead their groups effectively. A lot of times small group leaders feel as if they are on their own, without the foundational skills they need.
That is why we wrote the book Helping Groups Heal. In the book, we take some basic principles for effectively leading small groups, and put them into an accessible, easy-to-understand model that is consistent with a Christian worldview. Whether you are an experienced group leader, or leading groups for the very first time, Helping Groups Heal is a practical resource that will provide you with the foundational skills to help your group members experience healing and growth. You can get your copy on Amazon here.