I am honored to lead the Resources Division at LifeWay and serve with a team of leaders who are passionate to serve the Church in Her mission of making disciples. Each Wednesday, I share the heart behind one of the resources our team has developed and give an opportunity for you to register to win a free copy of the resource. This week’s resource is smallgroup.com.
We all want our small groups to have conversations that dig below the surface, that go deeper than mere surface relationships. But deep conversations require a level of vulnerability many groups never reach. Group leaders are often tempted to keep the discussions light so there’s less tension in the room, less awkward pauses, and less silence. But the question we have to wrestle with is—what degree of vulnerability is appropriate in a healthy small group?
I asked our Groups Ministry Team at LifeWay for insight on vulnerability in small groups. Based on their experience and insights, here are three ways small groups can have vulnerable conversations:
1. Groups must be small to be vulnerable.
“Small” is a relative term, but 3-14 is a generally accepted guideline. The number doesn’t matter as much as the fact that all in the group feel it is indeed small, thus creating an environment where in-depth, practical inquiry is possible. Larger groups can only focus on what is true, while smaller groups can explore why things are true. When we explore why things are the way they are, we are pushed to share our personal experiences and seek remedies within the context of the group.
2. Group members tend to follow authentic vulnerability.
No small group should be mistaken as a group therapy session, and most people who come to a small group will have intuition to know whether what they want to share is appropriate or not. If you have a member “over-sharing,” other group members will know this and not follow this person. But if someone is consistently, appropriately, and sincerely vulnerable, then that person inevitably becomes the de facto group leader. Group members put their trust in an honest, vulnerable person, and they become more and more vulnerable.
3. Vulnerability happens when truth is spoken.
A group functioning with a healthy degree of vulnerability will have people who love each other enough to speak the truth, even when it is not easy to hear. Vulnerability and trust are foundational to “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Perhaps you’ve been part of a small group where everyone got along just fine but the relationships were relatively shallow and superficial. Or maybe you’ve had the unfortunate experience of a mean-spirited argument breaking out between members—truth at the expense of love. Vulnerability and trust create groups that avoid these extremes and allow for truth to be spoken and love to reign.
Vulnerability in a small group does not rapidly lead to trust and love. It must be practiced and cultivated over time. You’ll know you’re there when group members aren’t afraid to share their honest concerns because they don’t fear rejection. Nor are they afraid to share their greatest joys because they don’t fear resentment. A healthy group is filled with people who sincerely speak the truth in love with full confidence.
One of the ways LifeWay helps group leaders to lead vulnerable conversations is through smallgroup.com. Smallgroup.com is a Bible study resource that can help small group leaders steer conversations toward authenticity and Biblical truth in a way that fits the unique needs of a group. You can get a free 2-week preview by going to smallgroup.com and clicking “Start my free trial now.”
Also, we are giving away two annual memberships to smallgroup.com.
Register here or in the form below by the end of the day (Wednesday, April 20, 2016) to win one of the two free annual memberships to smallgroup.com.