In September of last year I wrote a blog entry similar to this one for small group leaders (the link is below if you want to read it). It occurred to me that the same kind of frank discussion could be made for group members, but no one had written it yet to my knowledge. So here it is...
The Top Five Mistakes Made by Small Group Members
1. "I'll wait until group night to tell everyone about..." is a mistake. This reveals that you may have a "meeting mentality" about your group, and this mentality quickly feels like a membership in an organization, not a life-giving part of an organism. While gathering together regularly to worship, apply the Word, and pray together is vital, small group is about people who have sacrificially chosen to be with one another and do life together. Don't "save up" prayer requests, urgent or even small needs, or praise reports until your group meeting rolls around! Be a real friend and call someone for help, to share a praise, or just relate to them.
2. It's a mistake to think that a human is the leader of your small group. The real leader of your small group is Christ! Communing with the Christ within other believers and focusing on Christ's agenda whenever you are with them is powerful and very transformational. To really enter into a Christ-centered small group experience, you have to prepare your heart to receive what Christ wants to give you through others, and then be willing to give away what Christ wants to give others through you. Arrive at your meetings hoping Christ's presence will be felt so strong that everyone in the room will be permanently changed by the time you spent with him. This is the kind of group that anyone—including YOU, a group member—would be anxious to lead.
3. Keeping your children out of your meetings so the adults can focus on ministry to one another is the third big mistake. Your children desperately need to encounter adults sharing deeply and receiving ministry in a Christ-centered small group. And they need to participate in these practices at an early age. If they don't catch and adopt this value as a lifestyle during their formidable years, they will grow up thinking that adults do not sin, don't have issues they desperately need to share, and many other things that will fill the bank accounts of psychiatrists and therapists for years to come. To completely raise your children in a manner according to the Lord, they need to be active participants in a biblical community... not just go to children's church on Sunday morning and have a brief devotional time with you after dinner a couple of times a week.
4. Thinking, "This is a great group of Christians. I hope we keep our group this way for a long long time" is not healthy and another big mistake. You may be enamored with your first genuine experience of a biblical community, but it won't remain a healthy environment unless the members have a personal desire to grow up spiritually (ie, gain life-changing breakthroughs with personal struggles; dig into the Word regularly and apply it; reach friends for Christ; disciple them; and move out of the original group to begin a group of your own).
5. Viewing yourself as one of many small group members in your church is the last mistake, and it's a biggie. You are a minister with a ministry and a mission. Your ministry is to allow Christ to work powerfully through you in the lives of the other members. Your mission is to co-labor with other group members to effectively extend Christ's love to people who have yet to experience it in a transformational way. When you do both of these things, you'll see that you are a maturing Christian who views leadership of a new group and far more as the next big thing you are anxious to do, partnering with God Almighty.
Most folks who read my blog are pastors. So, I want you to know you can freely use this blog entry any way you see fit! Plus, if this kind of straightforward communication is what you need to share with your group leaders, do check out what I blogged about here:
Top Ten Mistakes Made by Small Group Leaders