Richard Sweatman and I have recorded a series of PodCasts about the elements of a competent Growth Group leader. Together I think these five aspects set a really good foundation for church leaders who appoint Growth Group leaders, as well as for current Growth Group leaders who want to think about how to grow themselves.
This is really all just Richard’s material, that I get him talking about, and throw in my two-cents (when I have any).
The 5 core competencies of GG leading
Competency 1: Character
Competency 2: Knowledge of God
Core Competency 3: Teaching
Core competency 4: Encouragement
Competency 5: Team Leadership
Whether you’re leading a growth group, preaching a sermon or just a one on one… don’t just say everything and rely on people’s hearing and memory. If they are listening to you, they’ll be able to finish your sentence.
What’s more; people remember what they say 1000% more than they remember what others say. You ask someone what they learned in your GrowthGroup last night, and they’ll rattle off WHAT THEY SAID – regardless of what the passage/study was about.
Also, getting people to finish your sentences forces them to do serious thinking; it requires listening, understanding, integration, creativity, boldness and humility. Don’t deny them that.
Lastly, if you let people finish your sentences, there’s even a chance they’ll find a word that picks up everything you want, but communicates it even… ?
Over the past 5 weeks, Richard Sweatman and I have been recording a podcast for GrowthGroup/SmallGroup leaders, with advice on how to helpfully deal with people suffering through mental illnesses in their groups.
It’s a very tricky topic, and I still think one of the best pieces of advice from Richard was that we, as leaders, should ask how someone’s mental illness affects them, rather than assume it’s just like the last person we spoke to. There’s always more to say, but I hope these are helpful. They’re each about 10-12 minutes long, so short enough to listen to on a short trip.
Cast #1 – An important framework for pastoring people with mental illness
Cast #2 – Diving into the mental illness conversation
Cast #3 – Leading people struggling with Depression
Cast #4 – Leading people struggling with Anxiety
Cast #5 – Professional services available for people you lead
The parable of the Good Samaritan might better be titled the parable of the unloving Jews. For that’s what is highlighted as three wannabe “righteous” Jews come into proximity with a man who needs help, and they avoid him.
But realise, had they not been travelling that road that day, or even at that time, they would not be condemned for their failure to act. That is, it was their proximity to this fallen man that brought upon them the opportunity to do good, to love. And in the same way, it was their proximity to this man that brought upon them the sin of failing to do as a loving neighbour ought.
Love thy neighbour, at the very least, means love the one you’re with.
I think this has massive implications for church families and growth groups. These are people you are with – whether you choose to be with them or you were placed with them, they are your neighbours, they are the ones you are with – both in proximity and in regularity.
This doesn’t mean we ignore loving at a distance, there’s heaps in the bible to show Christians do that, but we mustn’t fall into the trap of the Pharisees who ignored their real and present opportunities to love.
Who has God put in your path to love?
Notice that guys in the real world never sit directly across from each other, they sit side by side or at 90deg, looking at something else. It’s normally too intimate for guys to face each other – it’s more common for girls though. They seem more skilled in handling the face to face discussion.
But if your reading the bible or working on a project, it’s almost always best to try and sit at 90deg and look at it together.
Shoulder to shoulder can mean you never look at each other. And it can get awkward with make/female catch-ups when you are shoulder to shoulder and turn to face each other.
So, when you arrange to meet with someone, set out the chairs. If there’s only 2 of you, put your self at the head of the table, so they have to sit 90deg.
If its a round table, add/remove a chair so there’s only 3 available, and when they sit down, move yourself around from 120deg to 90deg.
If your meeting with 2 others at the same time, don’t stack one side of the table, keep it even. Sit around the end of a long table rather than in the middle.
Our youth group used to meet in a school basketball court. It was great for games and activities, and the leaders thought the small group times worked pretty well. Until they moved to a purpose built venue with lounges and cafe tables and meeting rooms. All of a sudden the youth group kids started “discussing” and relating and talking about the passages and the study questions like never before.
They didn’t improve the studies or the questions or the leaders, just the “space” they met in.
The space you meet in has a huge, repeat HUGE, influence on how humans behave in that space.
People find it easy to discuss deep thoughts in rooms that are designed for people to sit around tables (with paper and pens out).
But you can’t have the same type of meetings in a cafe… The tables and the atmosphere is “lower”. It’s hard to have out pens and paper, it’s hard to silently consider and focus. The space just isn’t designed for that.
Don’t have planning meetings in cafes, book an office or a library meeting room. Don’t have casual catch-ups in meeting rooms, go to a cafe or a park or whatever.
The space humans meet in makes a huge difference to humans.
You have two options. Call things to an end at the height of their fun, or, call things to an end after that when everyone’s had enough.
This is something they tell teachers and cru camp leaders all the time. Finish activities at the height of the kids fun. Leave them with the taste of the game at its best, most fun. Leave them wanting more. Help them have great memories, so when they think back to what they did, they think, “Oh, I can’t wait to play that game again!!”
But how might that principle apply in other areas? Even with Adults?
Maybe church on Sundays? How can you leave people wanting more? What about Growth Group? How do you end well at the height of fun?
Churches have various groups within them, and you could call each of these groups a little church. But that’s not what we’re talking about. That’s not dual church membership.
If you are part of a Growth Group, that Growth Group and especially its leaders are part of a congregation/campus, and those congregations are part of the church which the Holy Spirit makes certain men/elders responsible for. The group of 10-15 you meet with are not an independent group. The leaders have been “appointed” by the church eldership. When you submit to your group leaders, its an expression of submission to the elders who appointed them.
And refusing to submit to your group leaders is an expression of refusing to submit to your elders/pastors.
So if you’re in one churches’ small group, but you go to another church on Sunday… which elders are you submitting to? Both? or Neither?