A big part of your role as a leader is to do everything you can to help develop an authentic, ground-breaking community! As a shepherd, what do you do to make this happen?
- Pray regularly for and with the members of your group.
- Keep in touch between meetings. Call, e-mail, visit.
- Accept everyone, regardless of personality differences. Author John Ortberg makes this astute observation: “[Here’s] a deep theological truth: Everybody’s weird. Every one of us—all we like sheep—have habits we can’t control, past deeds we can’t undo, flaws we can’t correct.” *
- Deal with conflicts up front. Don’t try to wish them away or pretend they aren’t there. For more help on this subject, see Pat Sikora’s book, Why Didn’t You Warn Me? (www.whydidntyouwarnme.com).
- Stay positive. Group members sometimes tend to become negative—about other people, the church, you name it. Turn the tide as soon as you can. It seems like a lot of people complain and gossip, but very few people want to be in a negative group.
- Focus on people, not the program. As Ralph Neighbor says, “The people in your group are the agenda!”**
Community is the environment in which everything else happens in a small group. It is the soil in which people grow spiritually.
From World’s Greatest Small Group by Michael C. Mack
*John Ortberg, Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003), 18.
**Ralph Neighbour, Jr., The Shepherd’s Guidebook, rev. ed. (Houston, Texas: TOUCH Outreach Ministries, 1996), 67.