There are a ton of reasons small groups don’t work for people. It is easy to look at the group and point fingers at others but the best place to find some answers is to look closely at yourself. In my experience I’ve seen several attitudes that stop true community from forming in student small groups. I was able to share 4 of these pitfalls as a warning to students this week at our Life Group kickoff:

Just don’t say anything
This is the person who gets to group and refuses to say anything at all. He or she will not let ANYONE in or say ANYTHING. They will not be vulnerable and refuse to let someone in. They are simply putting in their time, or perhaps they were hurt in a previous group and don’t trust people out of the gate. Community can’t happen with that mindset.

The TMI guy
This is the classic “oversharer” the person who talks on and on about everything in their life. The person who refuses to stop talking about themselves, and redirects all of the conversations to cleverly make it about them. The person who won’t open up LOVES this person, so they can continue sitting on the sidelines of the group.

The 10% rule
This is the person who shares just enough to satisfy their leader – or shares enough of their story to get correction that doesn’t sting. They tell the story slanted to their perspective that favors them. Some choose to share just 10% – just enough to keep the conversation going without getting deep. Some share 90% – and leave out the last part to disguise the real problem or the severity of the issue.

Us vs. them
Community isn’t just you and your peers – it is a connection with your leaders as well. I was talking to one of our leaders this week who said “I think they would be surprised at what I would show up at if they just let me in.” Build then keep unity within your group. Students who deflect genuine community by attacking the leader never win. Community says we’re all in this together and rejects cliques and insiders/outsiders.

So what do we do?
1) Identify the walls and masks in your life
2) Make yourself vulnerable to the others in your group
3) Share … all of it
4) Lead others by your example and unity

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:9-12

JG

Just got my tale handed to me from a guy in Texas. Actually it was through a message from last years Right Now Conference by Tim Ross of the Potters House in Texas. The message was a challenge to make sure that we are being the person that others should be following.

If you consider yourself a leader think back to when you played the little game “follow the leader” on the playground. You are the guy in the front of a line taking all of those behind you where you want them to go. You are the one at the front of the line that is being imitated by everyone behind you. I know it may be a bit over simplified but in essence that is what you are doing as a leader.

Do you ever stop and consider where you are taking them and what they are imitating.

In Romans 12:8 Paul encourages those who have been given the gift of leadership to take that responsibility seriously. I take that responsibility very seriously…or at least think that I do.

Tim Ross brings out 1st Corinthians 4:3 where Paul speaks these words…
“For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you. So I urge you to IMITATE ME!”

It’s one thing to play a silly little game on a playground where you see where you can get people to go and how funny you can get them to act. But it is a CRAZY BRAVE thing to URGE…not just ask…but urge people to “IMITATE ME, follow me, do what I do”. But Paul is not just telling people to follow him up a hill or through the swings, flapping their arms while barking like a dog.

Paul is telling them in 1st Corinthians 11:1
“You should IMITATE ME as I IMITATE CHRIST.”

As a Spiritual Leader (whether you are a pastor, church staff, department leader, team member, FATHER or MOTHER, or BELIEVER) it is our responsibility to lead others to and in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

Can you make the same declaration as Paul…”IMITATE ME as I IMITATE CHRIST. Because, if you imitate me then you are becoming more like Christ?

If they do imitate you are they be becoming more or less like Christ?

OUCH…I know it hurts me to…

But think about that for a moment.

There are two groups of people that we are leading; those that we lead because we have been given that place or position. Then there are those around us who are following without ever being asked to do so. They do because of our relationship with them. Maybe they have seen us pass by and have just jumped in line following us around the playground of life.

Either way we have been given the “gift of leadership”and we must take that responsibility seriously. Imitate Christ…so that when they imitate you…they are really only imitating Him.

Steven Moore is the husband to a beautiful woman, father to TWO adorable daughters, pastor to amazing teenagers, son of the Father (Romans 8:15-16). Check out his blog right here.


Live Different by Youth Ministry 360 Now Available