This is the one. The big one. The moment you’ve waited and planned for. Don’t you just love it when a plan finally comes together!
Small groups are built with vision
They exist and work in order to achieve that vision. Small groups are designed to cultivate growth in faith, and provide opportunities for invitation and evangelise. For small groups to do this, and for the vision to be achieved, small groups need a plan and a vision needs to be set. In other words, there needs to be a purpose which drives them onwards. Sticking to this vision however, might not always be so easy. Small groups can stagnate and go off track so easily. I have never been in a small group that hasn’t sidetracked massively.
In fact, my very first small group we were so chatty that we had a tangent jar. Not a swear jar. A jar which we put a pound in if we were responsible for a big tangent. This may have been a little harsh in hindsight, but at least the goals of the small group remained true. The vision can sometimes get lost along the way, and that’s ok. It just means there needs to be a structure to bring the group back on track and towards achieving what it set out to see happen.
But what is the goal of a small group?
Well, that can vary from group to group, so it is crucial that the leader helps the small group find a direction. If you’re not pursuing the vision of the group, it can be easy for the group to stagnate. If you haven’t already, figure out what unites the small group, explore aspects of mission, outreach and worship that the group are collectively passionate about. Maybe you are all passionate about an area of life you can all be missional in together. Maybe you want to see god transform your lives and the lives of those around you. Or maybe you want to be a group that loves God, loves the world and loves each other.
Whatever unites the vision of the small groups, the important thing is moving towards outworking it and not getting stuck. When a small group reaches the point where they have found ownership, found comfort in themselves as members of the group, and have turned their attention towards Christ that means the group is becoming ripe and ready to outwork its vision. Like fruit, there will be a season where it is at its best. Fruit can not be ripe enough or it can become overripe. It is better to be underripe, but to learn actively than to stagnate and wait too long.
The role of the leader here, as always, is so important. It should be a posture of openness and a giving away of responsibility. Make room for others to take the reins and put forward ideas of how to be missional. This might need a structure from the leader, but don’t become the only dominant voice. Continue to make sure that the group is relational and that they don’t split the vision. If the vision is to be seen together, as a small group, it means not leaving anybody out. Do outreach together, prayer walk, speak pastorally in pairs.
Most importantly, don’t let this stage of the small group feel pressured. It is a time to celebrate. The small group is maturing and reaching the point it has always wanted to be. In everything you do as a small group, breath, relax, and look back to Chrsit to be reminded of the reason you are doing it.
Commission, release, and look outwards and onwards to the glory of God!