Sometimes group leaders wonder if they should invite a person into their group who is not as spiritually mature as the other members or who could potentially disrupt the good dynamic they have going. If the group has already agreed to be open, I almost always say ‘yes’. Satan is not in the habit of luring spiritually lost people into the company of Christ-followers because that’s where they can encounter God’s life-changing Presence (Matthew 18:20).
Rather, group leaders ought to cover the invitation in prayer and trust God with the outcome. We can’t control how somebody responds to an invitation to come to a group, but we can control whether or not we take the risk. Plus, when fear is the driving factor in not doing something in cases like this, it’s probably the better to choose the action that requires faith. So I counsel groups leaders to pray, choose to do the most loving thing, and trust the guiding influence of the Sovereign power of God with the outcome.
In cultivating environments that make disciples of people at different stages in their spiritual journey, it is crucial to first respect God’s work. The truth is, God is already at work…
If we look to the account of the Early Church in the book of Acts as our model, we see people in all different stages of their spiritual journey helping one another take their next steps in following Christ (Acts 2:40-47, 4:4, 5:14, 6:7, 8:4-8, 25, 9:31). In the next post, we’ll look at how group leaders can cultivate disciple-making environments that help everyone in their walk with Jesus.
Although everyone would agree worship is an essential part of our spiritual life, many leaders wrestle with how to incorporate it into their group time without it feeling forced or awkward. One of the ways you can “break the ice” is to help your group members expand their understanding of what worship can look like beyond the church service. For example, being still before God and listening for His voice, reflecting on Psalms, thanksgiving, giving something up for a fast/Lent and remembering Jesus’ sacrifice for us, etc.
“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” – John 4:24
In other words, don’t try to replicate a weekend worship service in your group. Rather, discover ways the people you circle up with can worship together that fits your group’s unique dynamic and personality. Gradually introduce new forms of worship by offering a few suggestions from the list below and get a sense as to which one your group resonates with the most.
Worship is a vital aspect of biblical community and the Holy Spirit will help you lead your group to God’s throne of grace (Acts 2:47, Hebrews 4:14-16). As the group leader, be spontaneous and vulnerable in praising God because this will empower others to do the same when they’re ready.
The Lord will honor your effort in exploring new ways of incorporating worship into your group meetings. As you do, your times together as a group will feel increasingly worshipful and your members’ devotional lives will be enriched as they express their love for God and others in creative ways.
Praying in a group can be intimidating for those who haven’t done it before. You’d be surprised how many people are not used to praying out loud with other people around them listening in. This is vital spiritual practice for all believers to develop because agreement in prayer among two or more believers sparks the outworking of God’s will on earth as it is in heaven and builds the community of His Church (Matthew 18:18-20).
As the leader, you can ignite a passion for prayer in your group by using some of these approaches:
As a group leader, there are things that you can do in your preparation that can optimize the impact of God’s Word on people’s lives (Hebrews 4:12). These practices will actually help participants get the most out of your group Bible study and become more responsive to the transformational work the Holy Spirit is doing in their lives:
You know your Bible study has been effective when your group members love more: They love God more, love people more, love the lost more, and love Scripture more!
I use to think that if something was “authentic,” it had to be spontaneous, in the moment…raw. But I’ve learned that like many leadership qualities, it is something that can be developed and honed. As athletes train to excel in competition, so leaders can prepare for modeling authenticity in their groups.
Authenticity is worth this investment because it’s oftentimes the tipping point to biblical community. There are practical steps you can take that will enable you to become genuinely more authentic in how you lead. As a result, people will feel more of a connection with you and want to be around you more. The Lord will use your ability to be real to free others to be themselves.
So let’s look at how you can develop authenticity in your leadership and model it in your group life:
So be the first to acknowledge that you’re only human, and despite your imperfections and idiosyncrasies, you want to follow Jesus more closely. People are more likely to be open about their personal needs when they hear others express struggles they identify with – God uses authenticity to generate ministry moments in your group life.
As you model authenticity, people will be able to see Christ in you and it will inspire them to follow your example. The Holy Spirit can use this to break-through to real community, deepen relationships, fuel disciple-making, and compel your group members to impact their world with Jesus’ love and message.