Small Group Clown Sightings

Small Group Clown Sightings

Clowns have been seen entering small group meetings.

What do you do as a leader when this happens? Do what Jesus did.

Jesus’ small group was full of clowns. Except for its leader, this leadership-training group seemed to lack any observable spiritual leadership potential. A bunch of oddball characters and mess ups. I can hear Jesus talking with the Father: “Clowns to the left of me! Jokers to the right! Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.”

Within two pages in my Bible, Jesus had to:

  • rebuke his leader-intern (Mark 8:33). Actually, this verse says he looked at all the disciples as he addressed Peter: “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men”
  • deal with Peter missing the bigger vision during their mountaintop experience (9:5-6)
  • stop an argument between some of his group members and the religious leaders (9:14-16)
  • rescue his group members when they could not do what he had told them to do (9:18, 25-28)
  • correct his disciples who were arguing about which of them were the greatest (9:33-34; also see 10:35-45)

What a bunch of clowns!

The next time you look around at your small group meeting and see clowns to the left of you and jokers to the right, think about Jesus and his group.

We often talk about what kinds of characteristics to look for in group members and those with whom you’ll share leadership: a heart for God, a servant’s heart, and humility, for instance, but from all discernible measures, the guys Jesus selected did not have these qualities. And the guys with the biggest clown shoes seem to be the ones Jesus selected for his core team: Peter, John, and James.

Of course, “the Lord does not look at the things man looks at” (1 Samuel 16:7). Thank God! Even when we as human beings try to look at the things of the heart rather than just outward appearances, however, we can miss what God sees … which is why we must pray, and ask the Lord of the harvest to send us potential leaders.

Yes, Jesus’ group looks like a group of clowns at first sight, yet Jesus’ group was healthy. That might seem like an oxymoron, but I don’t believe it is. Jesus understood the principle of process. He did not see only what they were, he saw what they were becoming. And often this process of becoming looks very messy.

If your group is a mess—if your group includes a bunch of dysfunctional, sinful, pride-laden, argumentative clowns—don’t give up! Ask God to help you see the process of what your group members are becoming. Remember, Clown Lives Matter.

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Author: Michael Mack

Michael Mack has been involved in small group ministry as a pastor, writer, trainer, and speaker for more than 25 years. He founded in 1995 and started Small Group Leadership in 2012. He became the 12th editor of Christian Standard magazine in 2017 and continues to speak in churches about small groups, discipleship, and leadership. He lives in Pewee Valley, Kentucky (just outside Louisville), with his wife Heidi. They have four young adult children. Michael enjoys mountain and road biking with a group of friends. See the "About Michael Mack" page under About Us for more about him.

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