In his book by the same name, Andy Stanley unpacks how we as leaders engineer a vision (ie. Visioneering). It takes work, good timing and foresight.
And here's the problem.
Most of us have some sort of vision for our Groups. We know what we want them to look like, why we want them to exist. We plan for them to be born (Start-up) and for them to struggle through adolescence (Shake-up) and for them to thrive (Live-it-up).
But our Groups can't go on forever.
Groups, whether they're Small Groups or Community Groups or Life Groups or City Groups, they all end at some point. Some of us have natural breaks (semesters). Some of us don't. It doesn't matter. At some point, you look around and you know that it's over (or should be over). This is the Wrap-up.
And, at that point, we scramble.
I remember frantically trying to get my Group members to connect with another Group before mine flamed out. I really cared for these people and knew that they needed to be connected to a Small Group (Full disclosure, I think God wants everyone in a Small Group ... I'm crazy ... and I've written about it here). I was moving and couldn't continue leading the Group. It had to end.
What I wouldn't give to circle back around to that time! Actually, to 6 months before that time. Things could have been so different. Neater. Cleaner. More peaceful. Multiplicative rather than fragmentary.
Instead of panicking, I could have been doing something productive. I could have been Visioneering.
Engineering a vision for Groups is a must-do as Leaders enter the Wrap-up.
It wouldn't hurt our Leaders to pick up a copy of Stanley's book and there are great summaries available on-line, but here are a "few" vision engineering practices that help during the Wrap-up:
- Make sure you notice what God had done in the lives of your people
- Communicate to your people how God has been at work in and through their lives
- Help your people see the role of the Group in that work
- Pray for your people
- Talk to your people about the need for community
- Share how you think your people could serve in future Groups
- Train your people to serve and lead, give 'em experience
- Speak highly to your people about other Leaders and other Groups
- End on good terms with your people
- Discuss explicitly the plans your people have to connect with a new Group
- Celebrate with your people
- Remind yourself that "your people" are not, ultimately, "your people"
God plants us in community, in "Small" community. The people we love, he plants them in community too. Ending well, then, is recursive ... it catapults these people we love into new, God-centered community, fresh and starting up.
You may be tempted to think that all of this vision-casting and vision-creation stuff belongs at the beginning of the life of a Group. And it does belong there, at least in part. But now is the time to do it. Now, when the Group knows what Group-life can look like. Now, when we've seen what God can do. The Wrap-up of a good Group is the best time to cement our commitment to community. And this lays the ground for future Groups.
Leadership in Groups, then, is cyclical. And the last stage of this cycle includes the vision needed to provide momentum to the next.
How have you seen Groups do the Wrap-up?