A Small Group is based on personal relationships. Here are six important ways to nurture the personal relationships in your own Small Group.
These are not so much gifts as they are skills. They are skills that you can learn and put into practice. They require you to transcend your own personal interests and look after the interests of the other people in the group.
Here they are:
- Be an Encourager
- Be a Harmonizer
- Express the feelings of the group
- Draw others out
- Find Compromises
- Be a Standard-Setter
What. Be friendly, warm, and responsive to others; accept others and their contributions; regard others by giving them an opportunity to contribute or be recognized.
How. Give recognition for contributions to the group, point out the accomplishments of the group:
- “That was a really good suggestion, Chris. Thanks.”
- “We accomplished a lot today. Thanks.”
Role Model. Barnabas the apostle, when he arrived in Antioch:
Acts 11:23. When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. (NIV 1984 translation)
What. Attempt to reconcile disagreements; reduce tension, get people to explore their differences.
When. When the group cannot reach consensus, when conflict of ideas, opinions or personality is preventing progress.
How. Articulate the common elements in conflicting points of view:
- “What can we do to get you to support this? What can we all agree on?”
- “We seem to be stuck. What can we do to move the discussion along?”
Role Model. When Peter returned to Jerusalem after leading Gentiles to faith in Jesus Christ, the circumcision group confronted him. He won them over:
Acts 11:2. When Peter had come up to Jerusalem, those who were of the circumcision contended with him,
Acts 11:18. When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life!”
What. Sense feelings, mood, relationships within the group; share one’s own feelings with other members.
When. When the group is having trouble making a decision, when you sense a conflict in the group, as a check-in to see how the group is doing.
How. Verbalize what you see as the feelings, mood, tension in the group. Openly acknowledge your own feelings about what is going on in the group:
- “I am sensing that there is some tension in the room. does anyone else feel it?”
- “It seems like some people have withdrawn from this discussion. Is that something we need to discuss?”
Role Model. Metropolitan Cyril was an archbishop in the Orthodox Church in Bulgaria. One night during World War II, the Nazis rounded up the Jews and took them to the train station. They would be deported to Auschwitz for execution.
But then, at the end of the boulevard leading to the train station, Metropolitan Cyril appeared. There were about a thousand Orthodox believers standing behind him. He was expressing the love of Orthodox Christians for their Jewish neighbors. It was alarmingly clear what was about to happen. Read more »
What. Help to keep communication channels open: facilitate the participation of others, suggest procedures that permit sharing remarks.
When. Whenever you want to hear from the more silent members of the group, whenever you want to prevent a participant from dominating the discussion.
How. Ask an individual for their opinions or the information; be sensitive to the non-verbal signals indicating that people want to participate; when a person monopolizes the conversation, ask others for input:
- “Jeff, did you want to share something?”
- “Thanks for your input, Robin. I would like to know what the rest of you think.”
Role Model. Thérèse of Lisieux, mystic and saint and doctor of the church is probably the most loved Christian writer of all time. Her “Little Way of Love,” which she wrote about in The Story of a Soul, has drawn out countless people around the world.
What. When your own ideas or status is involved in a conflict, offer a compromise which yields status; admit error, modify ideas in interest of group cohesion or growth.
When. When the group is stuck, when trying to make a decision and there are opposing views.
How. Offer suggestions for getting unstuck; ask the group members to figure out a compromise:
- “I guess this method may not be the best for accomplishing this task. Shall we try Kim’s idea?”
- “I feel like we are stuck with two opposing views, what can we do to reach a compromise?”
Role Model. Gamaliel was a great Pharisee and a leading authority in the Sanhedrin. He persuaded the Sanhedrin to NOT condemn the apostles of Jesus:
Acts 5:34. But one stood up in the council, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, honored by all the people, and commanded to put the apostles out for a little while.
Acts 5:38. Now I tell you, withdraw from these men, and leave them alone. For if this counsel or this work is of men, it will be overthrown. 39 But if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow it, and you would be found even to be fighting against God!”
What. Check whether the group is satisfied with its procedures; suggest new procedures when necessary.
When. When the group first meets together, whenever the norms that are developing prevent the group from functioning effectively.
How. Help group define its ground rules; remind group of the standards they established for themselves anytime when those rules are ignored or broken:
- “How do we want to operate as a group?”
- “Seems like our ground rules have been forgotten. Should we take a few minutes and revisit them?”
- “I just want to remind you of the ground rules we set up in the beginning.”
Role Model. James was the half brother of Jesus, the head of the church in Jerusalem, and the author of the Epistle of James. In a very tense meeting, he articulated the simple new standard required for Gentile Christians:
Acts 15:19-20. Therefore my judgment is that we don’t trouble those from among the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but that we write to them that they abstain from the pollution of idols, from sexual immorality, from what is strangled, and from blood.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.