The Art of Asking the Right Questions (Especially During Times of Crisis)

What do God’s people do when faced with challenges like a worldwide pandemic or civil unrest? We always have a choice: immediately seek solutions or turn to God. Of course, this is not a binary choice—we can do both—but it’s vital for God’s church that we “seek first” to place our trust in him.

The coronavirus and its effects are really not all that novel. For more than four millennia, God’s people have faced challenges literally of biblical proportions, and we can learn from the choices, good or bad, they made. In our September issue of Christian Standard, we included four Bible-study essays, along with corresponding application articles, that provide wisdom for how to deal with pandemics and other challenges we face today.

Jehovah Jireh is more than just another name for God. That he is a God Who Provides is a vital theological truth, and it is a critical operational principle for Christian leaders. Jesus’ concluding words of his commission, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age,” is a promise of his presence and provision as we go. We lead under his authority and with all the resources he supplies along the way.

That he is a God Who Provides is a vital theological truth, and it is a critical operational principle for Christian leaders. Click To Tweet

Still, when we face challenges, we tend to start with questions: “Why did this happen?” “Who is responsible?” “How can we fix this?” And, of course, a biggie, “How long will this take?” These are familiar questions these days in the world and in the church.

About 10 years ago when I was going through a personal crisis, I found myself asking, “How long, Lord?” I found solace in the fact, as I was reading through Psalms during this period, that David often asked the same question (see Psalms 6:3; 13:1-2; 35:17, as examples). I was frustrated with God’s slowness, as I perceived it—I had to wait several years for my answer to prayer. As I compare my waiting to that of God’s people in Scripture, who often waited on God for decades, even centuries, I’m deeply humbled.

In discussing David’s “How long, Lord” cry, Warren Wiersbe said, “The answer to the question is, ‘I will discipline you until you learn the lesson I want you to learn and are equipped for the work I want you to do.’” So perhaps each of us should shift our questions to “What lessons has God been teaching me through this pandemic?” and “What is the work he has equipped me to do now?”

During my period of waiting years ago, I learned I couldn’t control any of the circumstances I was in, so eventually I surrendered my ways and my timing. I decided to simply do what I knew was right (and righteous) and trust God with all my questions. It wasn’t easy at first. Like many leaders, I’m prone to want to be in control, but God was showing me that he alone is sovereign. In my waiting, as I became more dependent on him, I heard from him more clearly than ever before. I saw him answering my prayers. I now consider that time of waiting as one of the most productive seasons of my life.

Many questions still remain about COVID-19 and its lasting effects. There are many aspects of it we simply can’t control. So perhaps this is a good opportunity for us to learn, to grow, and to relinquish any presumptions of control we may have. When we do, I believe God will make us better leaders.

I’m beginning to wonder: Could this pandemic be part of God’s plan for preparing his church for future challenges, crises, and even persecutions that will also be outside of our control? How will the temporary closure of our buildings—a relatively small sacrifice in God’s overarching story—equip us for only God knows what?

Could this pandemic be part of God’s plan for preparing his church for future challenges, crises, and even persecutions that will also be outside of our control? Click To Tweet

We believe Jehovah Jireh is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. Why wouldn’t we look to him first and trust him to provide no matter what comes our way? He will provide—it’s in his name!

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Adapted from my “From the Editor” article in the September 2020 issue of Christian Standard.

Every Decision Point Is an Opportunity to Grow (and a Possibility for Pain)

Why do some churches grow and multiply, some plateau, and others decline? 

It’s a question I’ve considered for a long time, and my experience as well as everything I read and study and all the people I talk to reinforce my theory that growing churches do certain things and have a particular mind-set largely absent in stagnant and declining churches. I’ll try to explain. 

In my personal life, I’ve seen a direct correlation between my physical health and my tolerance for pain. For years I lived with carpal tunnel syndrome and eventually lost quite a bit of functionality in both hands. I knew having surgery would be painful, inconvenient, and uncomfortable for weeks after the procedure, but I need the use of my hands for work and many other things. I had to weigh the costs, and I decided to have the surgeries. It was difficult at the time, but now, about 18 months later, I sit at my computer and type without pain. 

I’ve experienced something akin to that in my spiritual, emotional, and relational life. Growth in those areas has come about mostly through times of struggle, pain, loss, sacrifice, and surrender. That’s why James said we should consider those kinds of struggles “pure joy”: they result in maturity and completeness. 

I believe similar correlations exist in our churches. Vitality and growth will never happen without pain, loss, and sacrifice, and we must weigh the costs of joyfully taking on those struggles—and the bigger, kingdom impact of not doing so. 

Churches, small groups, ministry teams, and other ministry organizations go through a common progression. They start “up and to the right,” with excitement and growth. Eventually, however, they begin to level off and plateau. This is not necessarily good or bad, at least not at first—it’s just a natural occurrence in organizations; it’s hard to sustain long-term accelerated growth. A brief plateau may be a time for rest—a sabbath of sorts. But over time it can become unhealthy: a comfort zone, a time for maintaining the status quo, focusing internally, and, well, lukewarmness. Churches, groups, classes, and teams can forget their “first love,” the very reason they were started, and settle for something safer and more comfortable. 

I think one of the saddest things in life is to see a once vibrant person, group, or church now plateaued and remaining there for years upon years. They weren’t created for that! 

One of the saddest things in life is to see a once vibrant person, group, or church now plateaued and remaining there for years upon years. They weren’t created for that! Click To Tweet

Along the plateaued line, a church comes to countless decision points, and each one represents an opportunity. They can continue with the status quo, or they can push out of the comfort zone, wholly trust God, and focus on his mission to the world around them. 

Recognizing and responding to these various decision points is a vital leadership responsibility. I have used this chart to teach small group leaders how to get out of maintenance and into missional mode, and the same principles apply for church leaders. One of the first things the leader must do is simply recognize these decision points as opportunities to grow. 

Leaders should also recognize that each decision point bears an associated opportunity cost. A decision to step out of a comfort zone may bring temporary pain and loss, including the loss of some traditions, programs, and certain people. But missing or ignoring the opportunity has kingdom consequences. We accept pain to achieve progress; we endure loss to embrace real life. We walk through pain, help people grieve loss, trust God’s plan, and strive for his mission.  

We accept pain to achieve progress; we endure loss to embrace real life. Click To Tweet

Of course, it’s not enough to just recognize decision points. We must act on them! We unapologetically cast a biblical vision. We refocus leadership meetings from internal to external. We start a new, externally focused serving initiative. We reach out to a neglected group of people in our community with the gospel. We develop young leaders and let them lead, even if imperfectly. We decide and communicate clearly that objects are not sacred and can be moved or changed to help us be more effective in carrying out God’s mission, which is sacred. 

As a church moves forward in living out God’s mission, it becomes healthier. And healthy things naturally grow, bear fruit, and multiply. Unhealthy things don’t (or we don’t want them to!).  Leaders in healthy churches count the cost at each decision point, and they ultimately decide temporary pain will not deter them from becoming the disciple-making church Jesus established and envisioned.

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Adapted from my Letter from the Editor in Christian Standard, May 2019, page 6.

Leadership TIPS of the Week: August 28—September 1, 2017

I share these leadership TIPS each weekday on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to help equip ordinary people to lead extraordinary churches, groups, classes, ministries, businesses, teams, families . . . whatever you lead! Then I compile each week’s TIPS here on Fridays. Please share them with your friends. I’ve made it easy for you!

Bonus Leadership TIP
from Tim Liston, senior pastor, New Hope Church, near Houston, Texas

Click here to read all our Leadership TIPS!

The Need for Accountability in Groups

CJ StephensGUEST POST by C.J. Stephens, Small Groups Minister at Northeast Christian Church, Louisville, Kentucky

 

I hear the stories over and over again. They vary in subtle ways, yet they’re always about that person in your group—the one who seems to have everything together. Their life is going perfectly. Their family is great. They are making more money than they ever have. They love their job.

And then one day, out of the blue, their life falls apart.

It turns out that everything wasn’t as great as it seemed. Maybe they weren’t in such a great financial position. Maybe their marriage was a sham. Maybe the person was dealing with a secret sin.

I wish I could say this kind of thing never happens in our groups, that it never happens in our church. But it does, and each time, it breaks my heart. It can happen in your group, too, if your group lacks something critical: accountability.

Honestly, I hate accountability. I like to make plans. I like to come up with grand ideas about getting healthy or saving money. But I hate when someone holds me to those plans. I’d rather just make the plan and then give up on it whenever it becomes inconvenient for me.

Yet, I grow the most when I’m held accountable. This is true for your group as well. Your group will grow closer to each other and grow in their spiritual walks when they are being held accountable.

Cross the Line

The major barrier in our groups to accountability is an unwillingness to cross the line. You know the line—the line between comfortable, polite dialogue and discussions about touchy, sensitive topics in your life. So many of our groups never get past the surface level of life. They never move beyond the comfortable. Yet, it’s just across that line where we can ignite the most growth.

I want to give you a word of warning. It takes time and sensitivity to know when and where you can cross the line from casual friendship to speaking truth into someone’s life. The most important thing is that the person to whom you are trying to talk knows you are doing it out of a place of love. They need to know you have their best interests at heart. They need to know you are not meddling or teasing, but helping them in their walk with Christ.

Hold Them to It

Once your group is in a place where you can deeply speak into their lives, you need to consistently hold them accountable. I’ve been in groups in which people bring up the same relational troubles over and over. I know people who mention the same sin issues repeatedly and never seem to make any progress. How can we help those people move forward?

I’ve found one question to be helpful to you as a leader: “What steps are you going to take this week to change that?” It’s a deceptively simple question, but it has helped me enormously. It asks the person to do two things: make a plan to remedy the situation and get to work on it quickly. Let’s discuss each briefly.

Make a plan: Many of our problems never get solved because we never make a plan. By asking group members to make a plan to change, you are asking them to think more deeply about the situation and come up with a solution.

Get to work on it quickly—this week. Our nature is usually to let things go on and on without a solution simply because the solution is uncomfortable. By putting a timeline on the plan, it makes the problem immediate.

And here’s where the accountability comes in. The next time you see that person, ask him or her, “How’s that going?” This part is crucial. If you don’t check back with them, you aren’t holding them accountable. Check in on them. Bother them. Pester them until they start to make progress. Let them know you are on their side, but challenge them to find a solution.

If you love your friends, you’ll want them to grow. You’ll want to see them change. Love them enough to challenge them. Don’t wait until the problem blows up their life and they must then try to pick up the pieces. Keep your group accountable.

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This blog post originally appeared in “Leader Connect,” a newsletter for small group leaders at Northeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

Leadership TIPS of the Week: June 12-16, 2017

Here are this week’s all new Leadership TIPS … for all kinds of spiritual leaders. Each day this week, we Tweeted them, posted them on our Facebook page, and posted them on LinkedIn. Use these tips in your ministry. Retweet or repost them to your friends and followers!

Click here to see all our Leadership TIPS!

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Don’t Let the Sheep Lead the Flock!

God often takes us places we didn’t plan to go.

As I got into my rental car in Louisville, Kentucky, to head out to The Groups Conference in Mattoon, Illinois, where I was speaking last weekend, I set the route I wanted to take in Google Maps and headed out. I was driving along the highway with the radio cranked up, enjoying the drive, when, about 2 hours in, Google Maps told me to get off the highway, at least 30 miles before my next designated turn. I took the exit as GM instructed and then looked at my phone to see where it was taking me. It looked good: a straighter shot than the highway although smaller roads. As I went, the roads became even smaller and smaller and less and less smooth, yet I was enjoying the sites on this country road that I never would have seen on the highway. At one point, GM told me to turn down a dirt road that had just had gravel added. The car in front of me took the same turn, and at several points, the dust from the gravel became so thick I couldn’t see. All I could do was stop the car and let the dust settle. At places in this drive, I had no idea where I was; I felt lost. I was in Illinois in the middle of a lot of barren fields, but I began to see small oil-well pumps. I’d expect to see those in a place like Texas, but Illinois? Then I saw a sign that said “Louisville, 7 miles.” I felt like I was going in circles! I yelled at my phone, “What are you doing? Where in the world are you taking me?”

Eventually, the back roads took me to the expressway, and I got to Mattoon safe and on time.

I admit that I too often treat God like I treated Google Maps. I set my own destination and course for “my” life. I enjoy the easy ride for awhile, but then I come upon a detour that takes me off the road I had planned to travel. I’ve been in those places where the dust and gunk of life became so thick that all I could do was stop until eventually the dust cleared enough to go on. I’ve felt lost and confused. I’ve wondered why I wandering. I’ve yelled at God, “What are you doing, Lord? Where in the world are you taking me?”

Yet, eventually, I get to a better place—and this has taken years of my life—and it’s not until I get there that I can see what God was doing. In the middle of the detour, I believed I didn’t deserve to be where I was. But afterward, I could hear God say, “Yes, you didn’t deserve this detour to your plans, but I did it for your good anyway.” While these times were difficult and heavy and painful, I saw and learned things about life and about God that I would not have seen or learned otherwise. He taught me to rely on him and trust his course for my life. He gives me opportunities to show others who are currently detoured that God is faithful.

If you lead a small group or family or team or any other collection of people, you will soon discover that they too end up on detours in their lives. Sometimes these detours look very much like the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4). Yet, somehow, he is guiding them along the right paths for his name’s sake (v. 3). Your job is not to steer them back to the road they wished they were on or planned to be on. Your job as a shepherd is not to fix them or the circumstances. Your job is simply to walk with them through it. You shepherd them as the Good Shepherd guides you. You simply overflow (see v. 5) the compassion and love and peace and comfort and wisdom and power that he has poured graciously into you. Just be with them during these times.

Often, people don’t want to go where the Chief Shepherd wants them to go. He leads us out of our comfort zones so that we will rely on him, not ourselves, for our comfort and peace.

God leads us out of our comfort zones so we will rely on him for our comfort. Click To Tweet

Guiding people to go (or as they go) places where they do not want to go is not easy or comfortable for you or them.

God wants your group to go and make disciples, but they want to stay on the smooth and easy road they know of comfort, stability, and safety.

God wants your group to serve the poor and hungry and homeless and imprisoned, but they want to serve themselves with good meetings and safe relationships.

God wants them to mature so that they will take on leadership and feed others, but they just want to stay put and be fed.

If you as God’s shepherd-leader decide to follow the Chief Shepherd, you will face conflict from sheep who don’t want to go there. I can point to many biblical examples of this, but one of the clearest comes from the Exodus and the wanderings of the Israelites in the wilderness. They were off course from where they expected to be. They were looking for the Promised Land, but found themselves in the desert. Moses was their shepherd but he found himself in constant conflict with stubborn sheep. Moses heard God’s voice telling him to lead the people, but he also heard the loud bleats of sheep who didn’t want to go God’s way. When this happens as you lead, what do you do?

  1. Always, always, always hold high the values and principles found in God’s Word. Don’t give in to lesser values.
  2. Listen to God’s voice first (and you need to spend time with him—abide in him—to hear him), and then to people’s voices. When there is conflict between those voices, refer to #1.
  3. Don’t kowtow to people who prefer their comfort over God’s mission.
  4. Don’t let the sheep lead the flock!

Don't let the sheep lead the flock! Click To Tweet

God has chosen you to lead his flock. He has entrusted these people into your care as an act of stewardship. He wants you to invest into them, care for them and, lead them to where he wants them to go. He wants a return (Matt. 25:14-30)! He wants fruit (John 15:8). Be a wise and faithful steward-servant-shepherd who follows the Chief Shepherd.

What places does God want your group to go that group members don’t want to go? Share it by scrolling down and commenting.

Small Group Leader TIPS of the Week: Nov. 7-11, 2016

Here are the Small Group Leader TIPS for the last week as Tweeted, posted on our Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn.

This week’s TIPS focus on building healthy authentic community / unity even in a political environment.

QUESTION: How has your group dealt with politics in your discussions this past week? What are you learning? Please comment below.

Read All Small Group Leadership TIPS here!

 

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25 Tips for Dealing with Politics in Your Small Group

How do you discuss politics civilly in such a politically charged culture?

Or should you even try?

Your group members may debate whether you should even talk about politics in small group meetings. Some would maintain that this could fracture a good group. Here’s my take: your group should be a great place to discuss politics IF you handle it well. Here are 25 important principles:

  1. Before you begin discussing politics, consider the spiritual and emotional maturity of your group members, as well as your group as a whole. As a shepherd leader, you should be able to gauge where people are and if they can follow the rest of these principles in a discussion.
  2. Before entering into the discussion, set the ground rules. Use some or all of the following as your basis for what and how you will discuss.
  3. Pray that God will lead this discussion and do what only he can do to use it for your good and his glory.
  4. Agree on how you will relate to one another. The following 12 New Testament guidelines provide some of the most important relational principles for any group discussion.
  5. Clothe yourselves in humility toward one another and each other’s positions and opinions (1 Pet. 5:5).
  6. Love one another deeply, from the heart (1 Pet. 1:22). Love covers over a multitude of political positions.
  7. Be at peace with one another (Mark 9:50) and live in harmony with one another (1Pet. 3:8). This is a decision of the will you make before any discussion, especially a political one.
  8. Honor one another above yourselves, and above your own political opinions (Ro. 12:10).
  9. Be patient, bearing with one another, and one anther’s political views, in love (Eph, 4:2).
  10. Accept one another, regardless of political views, just as Christ accepted each of you (Ro. 15:7).
  11. Be kind and compassionate to one another (Eph. 4:32).
  12. Do not slander one another (Col. 3:9). And while you’re at it, don’t slander the other person’s candidate or political party.
  13. Do not grumble against each other or each other’s candidate (Jas. 5:9).
  14. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people (2 Tim. 2:24; see Prov. 17:14, 19).
  15. Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another (Col. 3:13).
  16. Pray for each other so that you (as Christ’s body) may be healed (Jas. 5:16).
  17. As you discuss issues, look at the larger context/perspective, that is, God’s story as revealed throughout Scripture.
  18. Discuss: What is the role of human government in God’s story? (Study Romans 13—all of it; don’t stop at verse 7—as a basis for this dialogue.)
  19. You may need to talk about the overall context of God’s story. What is it? It’s a story of redemption, so how is government part of or not a part of that story?
  20. As people turn to discuss/present specific issues, candidate and party positions, and their own ideas/opinions, always go back to Scripture to see what it says about these issues. The Bible, not a group member’s or politician’s opinion, is always your standard!
  21. If (when) group members turn the discussion toward a politician’s unethical, immoral, or illegal behaviors or words, turn the discussion toward Biblical principles for these issues. Use some of these as follow up questions: * God seeks leaders after his own heart (King David – 1 Sam. 13:14). In a secular government, how does that apply? * Let’s talk about us. The Bible says we’re all ministers/ambassadors for God (2 Cor. 5:18-20), so what importance does morality and ethics have for us? * We know God is sovereign; in other words, he’s in control in how his story unravels over time. How can we view the current political climate and what this election might mean from a big-picture point of view?
  22. Talk about the biblical role of government in today’s society that has become increasingly secular in a world that’s winding down toward Jesus’ coming.
  23. Discuss: How has God used secular government in the past to carry out his story/mission? How is he working today in and through government?
  24. View your discussion, even debate, as an opportunity to grow spiritually, not to make a point.
  25. Utilize this discussion as an opportunity to model for our culture what real hope, peace, love, and unity look like even when we disagree about issues.

God has a vision for your small group that is part of his grand story and is bigger, way bigger in fact, than current politics. Don’t let Satan divide you through what in the overall scheme of things amount to side issues.

Your group can bring glory to God and his kingdom by the way you relate to him, one another, and the world … by his power.

And that’s HUUUUGE!

How is your group dealing with politics? Get in on the discussion by clicking the comments box below!

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.

Ask God to help you see the process of what group members are becoming. Click To Tweet

Should We Shake Up Small Groups?

I was recently asked this question via email from a church leader in Canada:

There has been some question in the past at our church about how long a group should be together. A thought had been to “shake” things up or break up groups on purpose and in doing so that it would help. My opinion is that it hurts. The leaders are wondering what is best. What are your thoughts?

My first thought is to take a 30,000-perspective on the question. If I were consulting face-to-face with this church, I’d ask,

  • What’s the mission of your church?
  • What would you say is the main purpose of groups at the church?
  • What would your senior leader say is the purpose of groups?
  • What would your group leaders and members say is the purpose?
  • How would you describe your definition of and philosophy for small groups in the church?
  • How did these groups form in the first place? Naturally, organically, and relationally? Or through a programmed approach such as sign-up sheets, assignment/placement in groups (i.e., by last name, ages, neighborhoods, etc.), or a campaign?

I ask those questions to understand the context but also because the answers to those kinds of questions usually help the leader to respond to the more specific how-to questions.

In regard to definition and philosophy, I personally think of small groups as one of the most basic units of the body of Christ. The position the leaders in this church are espousing would be like taking organs out of one body and transplanting them into others. I can’t see how that helps.

If those organs (people) are unhealthy spiritually, that makes the whole situation even worse. Shuffling unhealthy people around in groups won’t help the situation. First deal with the unhealthiness within the groups. To do that you’ll need to assess your groups and your people. (My free group assessment is here: http://www.touchusa.org/free-small-group-health-assessment.)  I believe the best prescription for spiritual unhealthiness is discipleship. Spiritually immature people are often the most spiritually unhealthy.

My other favorite illustration of healthy small groups is a good football team that huddles to call the next play, instruct, encourage, and confess (“my bad; I dropped the ball”); and then breaks the huddle to run the play in order to carry out the team’s mission. No game was ever won in the huddle. Cohesive teams may make some offseason “trades,” but the best ones have been together for a while. They know one another, care about each other, and are a “team.”

If you’re purpose is to build disciples in healthy community, the big question is what’s best for doing that?

I don’t fully know this church’s situation, but in many cases like this one there’s something else going on behind these leaders’ desire to “shake things up.” It would take time for the small group director to meet together with people, invest into them, and do some evaluating to discover what that something is. Are people afraid of intimacy? Do they simply not like the people they are presently meeting with? Are they too inwardly focused (a holy huddle that’s not carrying out the mission)?

This is where the question about how they formed into their present groups comes in. If they were assigned or placed in groups by the church, or if they connected through a sign-up sheet or something like that, I can see why they might want to shake up that nonrelational program. However, I’d carefully, prayerfully put together a plan first for how the new groups will form. Because I believe in a more relational, rather than programmed approach to groups, I’d find a way for people to gather in groups through the relationships they already have—not as consumers, though, but as friends who desire to live in community to carry out God’s mission.

By the way, I suggest three books for anyone wrestling with this question:

My Small Group Vital Signs. It provides seven indicators of health that keep groups flourishing (so that members want to work together, grow together, bear fruit together, and then naturally multiply into new healthy groups).

Scott Boren’s MissioRelate (click for more info or to buy now), for small group directors, pastors, and other church leaders. Out of the hundreds of books I own on small group ministry, it’s the best and clearest on how to build a healthy small group ministry.

Scott Boren’s Leading Small Groups in the Way of Jesus (click for more info or to buy now), for small group leaders, core team members, and the rest of the group. I’m reading this book now, and it’s fantastic! Scott shows groups how to move from good meetings to having great small group experiences that transform lives and make a kingdom impact.