What makes for a dynamic small group experience? Most of us know it when we see it. Most of us have been in groups that have a different quality and go well beyond the ordinary. I’ve written about what I think are theessential ingredients of life-change several times.
Here are what I think are the 5 keys to a dynamic small group experience:
- A group leader who is becoming more like Jesus. Like Paul, the leader can say, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ,” 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV). Embedded in this key are the practices of Jesus (praying for group members, thinking about their needs, loving them even when they fail, celebrating their faith steps, and appropriately challenging their stumbles. A key for me is that need to be becomingmore like Jesus. Like Jesus’ closest followers, they can start very far from being like Him. See also The 12 Were Not Chosen from the Core and Leader Qualification: Raising the Bar, Lowering the Bar, or Open Bar.
- A group leader who is being mentored by someone who is a few steps ahead. I’ve often said, “Whatever you want to happen in the lives of your members has to happen first in the life of the leader.” [Click to Tweet] How will the leader become like Jesus? Almost always because someone is a few steps ahead, living out “follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” See also, Who Makes the Best Coach and Coaching FAQ: What Are the Essential Ingredients of an Effective Coach.
- A warm and welcoming environment; a comfortable and familiar space. Environment plays an important role in the meeting. What’s needed isn’t elegant or expensive. What’s needed is an invitation to relax.
- A shared understanding of essential purpose, values, and expectations of the group. See Skill Training: Using a Small Group Agreement.
- A connection that extends beyond the meeting. The meeting itself is important, but the meeting is not enough. Groups that move beyond the ordinary experience almost always connect between meetings. Dinner together. A cup of coffee. A Facebook message or a quick phone call. Sitting together in the worship service. A birthday card or note. See also, 101 Great Ideas to Create a Caring Group: A Classic Resource.