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From the keyboard of a group leader

This is the first in what I hope to be regular appearances by our group leaders here on the blog.

Guest blogger: Josh Dyson, SummitLIFE Group Leader

When Spence asked me to write about my experiences as the leader of a new SummitLIFE group, I was excited. Eventually, at least – I was actually nervous at first, but now I see it as a good way for me to review where we are as a group, pray about our future with a better sense of direction, and praise God for what he’s done in and through us so far. I hope this encourages you to do the same.

My wife and I started our SummitLIFE group at GroupLink a few months ago. Our group was formed based solely on geographical location, so at the end of the evening, I was sitting in a circle with my wife and a bunch of girls I had never met before. I say girls because there were no guys in our group at the end of GroupLink, except for me. Most of these people had never been in a small group before, were new to the Summit, and didn’t know the other people sitting across from them any more than I did. The early struggles were obvious ones – how do you get a group of strangers to open up and have meaningful discussion about the Bible when they don’t even know each other’s names? As the most willing talker in the group, how do I keep from dominating the discussion? How to I balance that challenge with the awkward silence that’s almost guaranteed to be there? How can I get some more dudes to this thing?

While it is going to take some time for people to get comfortable in a small group, there were a few things that helped us along that might help you. We built a “social” time into our meetings; the first 15 minutes are for people to get in, get settled, grab a cookie, and make some small talk. I think that lasted about 5 minutes the first week. Now I have to cut it short every week. In addition to that social time, we’ve also spent some time just hanging out and having fun. I think it’s built a sense of trust and friendship into our group that really helps us get past the awkwardness. By the way, we ended up getting some guys, too.

Another huge bonus was the “Why Small Groups?” material that all new SummitLIFE groups go through. It was easy to study, it takes a little load off of the new leader in figuring out what to study, and it gives the whole group a unified vision for why you’re all there. Having that vision helps them participate in a meaningful way. It has given us something to look back on and see how we’re doing as a group. But it also challenges your group to be more than just something you do on Tuesday nights.

One of the things I’m still praying will happen is for more people to play an active role in our small group. We’ve filled a couple of those roles, but I’d really like to see some other people lead discussion or prayer time, or maybe even rotate hosting, or take the lead in coordinating our outreach. In fact, just writing this has reminded me to renew the invitation to get involved to our group members. Also, make sure they know that it’s not about lightening the load on the leader – it’s about their own spiritual maturity. We don’t need them to serve; they need to serve.

One of the most rewarding things about this new group is watching God at work in these people and the people they know. We’ve seen coworkers cared for in a time of crisis, we’ve seen a neighborhood get new clotheslines, and we’ve seen people who were too nervous to talk or pray in front of others help us all dig into God’s word, and believe God on our behalf in prayer. I know I had nothing to do with that growth and change in people; I was just an instrument. But it doesn’t make it any less awesome to see God at work. All praise, honor, and glory to him!

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  1. September 15, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    Word up bro! Our small group rocks my socks off every week!! Ok, a little over-dramatic, but our group has changed my life and changed my girlfriend’s life also, Ashley. We love it man and we love you and Lauren. Thanks for being a great leader!!!

    peace

  2. Lauren Dyson
    September 15, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    I definitely agree about the “Why Small Groups?” material, and I think it’s not just for new groups. Groups that are already established can still benefit very much from this bible study! It refocuses you on the important aspects of small groups and keeps you from being distracted from the things that aren’t important and could even hurt your group

  3. September 16, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Thanks, Ethan! I appreciate the encouragement. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that the group has changed my walk in a real way.

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