This post is the fifth post in a ten part series ... Small Group Leader Training. For more posts in this series check out the series frontpage.
Let's talk about the Shake-up ... the awkward teen years of the Small Group life-cycle.
What do you do when your Group hits the Shake-up?
Most of us don't expect the Shake-up. We expect an upward trajectory. Sure, the first couple of weeks ... the Start-up ... it's going to be awkward. But after that ... we're surprised.
We live in the mist of the myth of progress. Technology will make work easier. Life gets more and more comfortable for each succeeding generation. We expect a more just, verdant and peaceful world.
But the reality of life is more complex. And Small Groups are no different.
As people open up, weird stuff starts to happen ... Shake-up.
Personality conflict. Hurt. Sin. The dark side of the coin.
And the bright side of the coin. Growth. Friendship. Mission.
Our tendency is to hunker down, set up shop in the Start-up stage and continue the leadership behavior that got us here: Modeling. Looking at the bright side of the coin, this makes sense. And looking at the dark side of the coin ... well ... perhaps we just need a little more team-building, a few more icebreakers!
But this doesn't work. Tensions build. Momentum wavers. And eventually people stop showing up and our Groups disintegrate ... or drift along stale and shallow, bumping against the bottom and grinding until not even we Leaders want to show up.
This is why Pursuing is so important.
Pursuing is a Leadership posture that extends beyond Modeling. When we model, we do what we want our people to do (set the tone). But when we pursue, we do more than we expect them to do, more than they've been trained to do. This is where the mantle of leadership rests heavy on our shoulders.
Pursuing behaviors can include taking initiative to get to know people deeply, remembering names and stories, going out of your way to show that you care and that the members of the Group belong. Pursuing behaviors can also involve a lot of asking probing questions and listening attentively and compassionately. [My favorite book to work on this skill set is Listening and Caring Skills in Ministry]
We don't ask Group Leaders to be therapists, but we do ask them to care.
Have you ever seen a Leader excel at Pursuing?
The next post in this series will explore Guiding, the leadership stance I find most helpful when leading a Group in the Live-it-up stage in the life of a Small Group. I'll post a link here as soon as it is published.