At New Life we frequently talk about living life in 3D. That means we believe that to grow spiritually everyone needs to Discover God Continually, Develop Spiritually and Relationally, and Deploy Purposefully.
You’ll notice the Develop step is the only step with an “and” in it. That’s because we feel people develop spiritually best when they are also developing relationally with others. Sunday morning is great, but true growth, true community, typically happens outside the church during the other six days of the week. Being a part of a Life Group (also known as a small group) can be one of the most rewarding things you may ever do. The friendships made there and the impact the groups make are often misunderstood and understated. Healthy life groups have transformed whole neighborhoods.
You may be asking yourself, if these life groups are so powerful then why aren’t there more of them? That’s a great question that we often ask ourselves. Two of the most common reasons we hear is that people are too nervous to attend one for the first time and people are too nervous to start their own group. We’ll address that second concern today.
Many people buy into one or more myths about leading a Life Group. These myths deter their willingness to start a new group. Even if they are having a great experience in their current group, they are unwilling to risk starting a new one. Here are some of the most common myths about leading a Life Group and how to overcome them:
Myth #1: Once I start a Life Group I have to have a study every week, forever.
Truth: There are many, many ways to format a Life Group. Consider finding a study you’re really passionate about and lead a group through that study and then stop meeting. This relieves the “I’ve signed up to lead forever” fear and helps attendees schedule better to be a part of the study. Other options include: bi-weekly meeting, meeting once a month, and skipping the summer months to name a few. If you’re leading the group you can decide when it begins and ends, don’t let the expectations (real or perceived) of other people discourage you from leading a Life Group.
Myth #2: My house is too small OR I don’t have time to clean my house every week.
Truth: The balance of work, family, hobbies, and house cleaning eludes most people and the reality is that a house that’s not spotless will actually make people feel more comfortable. The feeling of being alone in a struggle is one of the ways our enemy keeps us from engaging other people in community. Having a house that looks “lived in” instead of a model home can help others feel like they aren’t alone and can help them open up and connect in the group. That being said, if you’re home is truly too small for your group to be comfortable, then consider asking someone else in the group to host (while you still lead) or even having the group off-site in a coffee shop or grocery store café area. Dale and Nancy Spaulding live in a two bedroom condo and hosted 12-15 people in their small group for several years. Don’t be afraid to open your home to whoever will show up. The worst thing that happens is you outgrow your space and someone else in the group starts their own group.
Myth #3: I have to lead all by myself.
Truth: The best way to lead a Life Group is with a co-leader. It’s always good to have someone along side you to bounce ideas off of and allow you time off especially during longer studies. This also leads to discipleship and group multiplication when your co-lead is ready to start their own group.
Myth #4: I can’t lead because I don’t know The Bible.
Truth: This may very well be the biggest myth in leading a Life Group. Leading a Life Group is more about facilitating than leading and with the myriad of topical studies and formats available this is easier than ever. Video studies typically have their own workbooks and leader guides available with discussion questions already written. Many topical Christian book studies also have group discussion questions at the end of each chapter. If you don’t have access to these materials consider simply having a discussion about the previous weekly sermon. Most sermons are centered around a specific Bible verse or chapter. Simply read that section together as a group and then ask something like “What stands out to you about this?” and see where the discussion goes.
Other sample out-of-the-box ideas for Life Groups include having a meal once a month instead of a study or doing community service projects together as a team at set intervals. If you’re unable to meet consistently in person or live far away from other folks in the group, consider having your study and discussion on social media platforms such as Facebook or even using video conferencing applications like Skype to keep everyone connected.
Whatever road blocks your facing in leading or even being a part of a Life Group, remember you’re not alone and with the ever increasing availability of ways to connect and “do life together” there’s a way for you have community throughout the week. It may take some effort and maybe some non-traditional thinking but it’ll be well worth it. So, when does your group start?