Leadership Community (Part 2)

“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.” Philemon 7

The more I reflect upon Paul’s letter to Philemon the more I see powerful relevance and application that relates to small group leadership. If you weren’t at our closing leaders community this past Sunday we wanted you to hear something very important that we communicated to our leaders.

The small groups team wants to extend our great thanks to you as leaders for doing what Paul commends Philemon, that is, for “refreshing the hearts of the saints”. The word that Paul uses for heart conveys a deeply emotional sentiment (literally: “inward parts”). As you know, the Colossian church met in Philemon’s home. Philemon wasn’t the senior pastor of the community and he may not have even been an elder but because of the Christ-like love he shared with the folks in his home, the body had benefited immensely. Leaders, you may not realize this but you have refreshed the hearts of so many of the folks whom you lead, whether it be through prayer or follow up to a prayer request, a kind encouraging word or through facilitating a fruitful discussion. We want you to know that you are valued and that your ministry magnifies our great God and savior.

We also want to thank everyone who was able to make it to the leaders community over the past 3 Sunday’s. As a small group team we are very curious about which leaders took the opportunity to break and how many groups continued to meet without their leader. If you have a story about what God did in your life personally over the break or how the group benefited during this time, please email your staff contact to share that with us. We are also interested in getting feedback about the leaders community so that we are able to maximize the effectiveness of that time to best serve you as leaders.

Leadership Community

And I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake. Philemon 6

What a blessing it was for us to be part of a multi-generational interactive Bible study, this past Sunday afternoon. A room full of Tysons small group leaders got to worship, study, and encourage one another by discussing application questions from the biblical text. If you were not able to be part of our time we want to strongly encourage you to come out for the next two Sundays from 3:30-5:00 in room 1410.

As we looked at Philemon, verses 1-7, our big take away that specifically relates to small group leadership was from Paul’s prayer for Philemon in v6. Paul prays that Philemon’s ministry and fellowship with the Colossian believers, who meet in his home, would be even more fruitful. How might this happen? Paul says this happens through a deeper knowledge of every good thing that Philemon has in Christ. What Paul means is the more Philemon comes to treasure all that God is for him in Christ, the more effective Philemon will be in his love and ministry to those he is with in community. That idea has so much relevance for us as small group leaders! Don’t miss the study and discussion this week. If you plan on coming, then please review verses 1-7 and spend a little time looking at verses 8-16.

Praying that God will make your leadership even more fruitful for the sake of the gospel!

It’s Time to Take a Break (Part 4)

I recently had the opportunity to sit in my son’s kindergarten class and was fascinated how the teacher created such a structured classroom environment. When the children get too loud and talkative the teacher simply gives a verbal cue that prompts an immediate hush. When it’s time for the students to transition to a different learning/project station the teacher simply gives a cue and the students happily comply. Without the careful direction of the kindergarten teacher the class has the potential to quickly give way to “kindergarten chaos”. Ok, well what’s this got to do with leading a small group?

This is not what a small group meeting should look like! Of course, we want your small group to be a structured environment that has rhythm and purpose. We want a group environment to be conducive for learning, for prayer, and for fellowship. But, our goal, as small group leaders, is to get the group to the point to where it’s self-sustaining. What I mean is your small group should not stay at a place where the health and fruitfulness of the group is determined solely upon the skills and personality of the small group leader. In the last lifelines, we introduced this idea and we said that we’d follow up this week on some ideas as to how to move your group towards being self-sustaining. Here are some ideas:

  1. Don’t be overly didactic in your teaching style. Great small group leaders are those who are great facilitators. Remember, Leadership is all about dialogue not monologue.
  2. Be intentional about raising up leadership within your group and then utilize those leaders (Apprentice, hospitality, prayer request taker, etc). Remember, good leaders are good delegators.
  3. Occasionally, have someone else facilitate the discussion on the week’s material. Consider asking someone else in the group to come prepared with 3-4 discussion questions or having everyone contribute 2-3 and draw them from a hat.
  4. Take a 3-week break from leading your group and join us for our leader’s community on 3/27, 4/3, and 4/10 at 3:30 PM. It will be a great opportunity for you to be equipped in your leadership and fellowship with other leaders and a great opportunity for your group to learn how to be self sustaining.

It’s Time to Take a Break (Part 3)

Taking a break from leading your small group may be one of the most important leadership decisions you ever make for the group. Admittedly, a leader’s personality contributes greatly to the overall dynamic of a small group. The members look to the leader to help navigate through the dynamics of the relational cycle, to cast vision, lead discussions, and facilitate conflict resolution. All these things are part of your job as a leader but the group must never get to the place where the health and fruitfulness of the group is determined solely upon the skills and personality of the small group leader.

When a group first launches the dynamic is fragile. In our training manual, we call that “chaos community”. This usually lasts about 2 or 3 months. During this time the leader is the glue. Once the relationships in the group begin to solidify, a leader’s goal should be to give enough of the responsibilities away to the members so that the group could be self-sustaining. In the next issue of Lifelines, we will make some suggestions on how to move your group to becoming self-sustaining.

Today’s take away:

  1. Determine whether or not your group is self-sustaining or if the group relies solely upon your own personality and skills as a leader.
  2. Think about how this break might be an opportunity to make progress towards that goal of having a self-sustaining group.

By the way, if you’ve decided to be a part of the 3-week Spring break beginning March 27th at 3:30PM:

  1. Have you decided what the group will do during the break? (We gave you three options in the previous Lifelines)
  2. Have you discussed this with the group?
  3. If the options you’ve chosen requires planning, have you appointed a point person to handle the task(s) during the 3 week break? (If you do not already have an apprentice.)

It’s Time to Take a Break (Part 2)

As we prepare you for a three-week “Spring” break we wanted to answer two more important questions: “What will my small group do during this three week break?” and “What will the midsized community for leaders look like?”

What will my small group do during this three-week break? The following are three options:

  1. Your group does not formally meet while you attend the midsize community Bible study for three weeks.
  2. Your apprentice leads the group while you attend the midsize community Bible study for three weeks.
  3. Your group meets in a format that doesn’t require your leadership such as a prayer and praise night; a night of service; a movie night, etc.

What will the midsized leader’s community look like?

  1. The leader’s midsized community Bible study will meet from 3:30-5:00 PM on Sunday 3/27, 4/3, and 4/10.
  2. It will be an interactive time where we will work through the book of Philemon in order to understand the meaning of the text and how to apply it.
  3. As we study Philemon we will discuss practical tips for your leadership in terms of studying the Bible, preparing a lesson and facilitating good discussions in your small group.
  4. We will have times of prayer and fellowship together.

Can’t wait to take a break with you!

It's Time to Take a Break

At the All-Leader Meeting we announced 3 scheduled breaks over the next year for leaders to be refreshed in the context of community with other leaders. We’ll be filling you in on the details of those breaks through Lifelines in the coming weeks but first we want to answer two questions that many of you may be asking: Is it ok to take a break? Why do I need one?

Q: Is it ok to take a break?
A: Yes! If Jesus Christ upholds the universe by the word of His power (Heb. 1:3), I think that includes your small group J . This break is a chance for you to trust that God is in control and that your group will be fine if you are not there for 3 weeks. In fact, I would pray that God would be merciful to allow these breaks to be one of the most meaningful and fruitful times your group will have this year.

Q: Why do I need a break?
A: Because you are human! We all need to have breaks where we can be refreshed and encouraged by other leaders. Breaks in seminary helped me get through the rigorous schedule during the semester. If I knew that spring break was coming soon it helped me know how to budget my energy. Without a break in sight, leaders are more likely to feel overwhelmed and experience some level of burn out.

These breaks will be an exercise in faith and humility and will benefit both you personally as well as your small group.