By Jeremy Maxfield
Small groups can be a vibrant form of Christian community. So how do you create an environment that encourages spiritual growth and personal interaction? How can you help group members understand, explore, and obey the truth of Scripture?
Below are 8 keys to a successful small group environment.
Clarity — Clearly establish the purpose of your time together. Being clear as to “why” you meet is just as important as communicating when, where, and for how long you will meet. This will foster healthy expectations and help ease any uncertainties.
Priority — Life is busy, but everyone must value your time with the group and with God’s Word. Avoid scheduling things that would conflict with your group or cause sporadic attendance—this communicates the value you place on the people in your group. Choose to make being together a priority.
Participation — One of the main distinctions between a group and a class is the level of interaction expected from members. Each person has unique experiences and insights to add to the discussion. No one dominates your time together—not even the leader. This is not a time for lecture. Groups thrive on healthy discussion and participation.
Respect — People will express opinions or questions that do not reflect the same opinion or level of understanding that you have. Being respectful of others encourages participation and leads to trust.
Trust — Each person must humbly seek truth through time in prayer and in the Bible. Trust the Word of God to be the objective source of truth. When challenged personally, believe that God loves you and knows what is best for your life. Humbly obey His Word.
Confidentiality — Never gossip. If a serious matter needs to be brought to the attention of trusted individuals, leaders, or professionals outside of the group, communicate your concern and intentions with the person(s) involved. Encourage them to go with you and/or ask for permission to help them seek a healthy resolution to their issue.
Support — Give permission to call on one another at any time, especially in times of crisis. Knowing that people are committed to one another spiritually, emotionally, and practically will deepen relationships, commitment levels, and vulnerability within the group. Genuine care in day-to-day needs can open doors to spiritual needs.
Accountability — Finally, if the clear purpose of your group is to helps everyone understand, explore, and obey the truth of Scripture, then accountability is natural. When people share what they feel lead to do in response to what they have learned, agree upon ways they would like to be held accountable. Out of respect, unsolicited advice should never be given. Questions and personal stories should be encouraged.
When people step through your door, they should enter a space where they can laugh, cry, and grow together. What do you need to do so that your group can experience all 8 of these keys to success?