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    Five Small Group Landmines…

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    Five Small Group Landmines…

    Winfield Bevins just wrote a great piece over at Resurgence about small group landmines.  I've seen all of these things happen at one time or another.  Take a look at these and tell us (in the comments section) which of these landmines you've experienced the most, and how you've dealt with them...

    1. They become a gossip group.

    Small groups are not a place to talk about others; rather they should be a safe place that is free from gossip and condemnation. People who attend a small group should feel free to come as they are and share openly and honestly. If we are not careful, small groups can degenerate into a gossip group that will tear down instead of build up.

    2. They become a one-man show.

    The leader should not do all the talking. Encourage others to participate and share in the group discussions. I have been to some small groups where only one person does all the talking. When this happens no one wants to share, much less attend. An effective small group leader encourages everyone to participate in the times of discussion.

    3. They become a place to complain about the church.

    Small groups can become a sounding board for disgruntled people to complain about the church. This is not a place to complain and slander the church. If people have a problem with the church, they need to share it with the church’s leadership, which is biblical. Train your leaders to protect the unity of the church by not allowing upset people to use the small group as a place to complain about their problems.

    4. They become a place for crazy people to take over.

    Small groups can attract crazy people who will hijack the group if you let them. Do not allow people to get off the subject by chasing rabbit trails. Whenever people start getting off track in the discussions, bring them back quickly. This requires a lot of discernment and grace. A good leader can keep people on track and the discussion moving.

    5. They become an end in themselves.

    Sometimes small groups become merely a meeting place or a social club; rather small groups should reach out to new people in the community. Small groups can also serve the community. Encourage your people to reach out to others. Begin thinking of creative ways that you can serve together as a small group.

    Read more here at The Resurgence... Or check out Winfield's church here...


    So... which ones of these really hit home?  Take a moment to share a comment on your thoughts right now...


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    1. Ben Reed on Thu, October 15, 2009

      At different points in different small groups, I’ve seen each of these in action.  Each can be devastating to a small group, because when they are caught in any of these landmines, their focus is off of the goal. 

      I think that any one of these can be averted with good leadership.  Exposing these landmines, casting the vision of your church’s small groups, and equipping leaders to navigate their group around these dangers helps small groups to avoid these.

      Thanks for the post, Todd. Great insights!

    2. Dale Schaeffer on Thu, October 15, 2009

      I’ve definitely seen all of these at work, but most of the time they are the result of poor systems.  For example: groups only become gossip groups if allowed to do so.  Leader centric groups are only that way because the system doesn’t require sharing the load.  Some of the things we’ve found helpful are:

      * Consistent & clear communication of expectations with leaders, followed by discussion about what’s working and what’s not working.

      * An intro DVD from church leadership which is played at the start of every semester of groups at the group’s first meeting explaining why we do groups, and the roles that are expected of each group member (sharing the load).

      * A process for dealing with gossip and other leadership problems quickly and directly.

      Good post!

    3. Shawn on Sat, October 17, 2009

      Excellent post, Todd. Thanks to Dale for your insight.  Love the intro DVD explaining why we do small groups.  I look forward to implementing this next semester.

    4. Lori on Mon, October 19, 2009

      I have also seen all five of these over the years.  I would offer a sixth one.  They become a relativistic, opinionated group.  What I mean by this is too many times, small groups come together with a passage or book and everyone expounds on what a passage means to them.  No one is there to teach or speak the truth of the passage and people walk away not really knowing what God meant in the passage.  Everyone should participate but not everyone’s interpretation of Scripture should be accepted as true.

    5. Brian Holt on Tue, October 27, 2009

      Great insight! I think it would make sense to take all 6 (the 5 mentioned and Lori’s) and share them with the group at the beginning and/or at any time during.  Perhaps a covenant document that clearly states what the group will and won’t be - that they have to sign.  Accountability is a must in a small group.  Thanks for sharing!

    6. Lotbuy on Sat, December 05, 2009

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