We've all heard that old joke where one guy says, "I'm looking for the perfect church" … to which his friend replies, "Yeah, well, if you find it, don't join it or you'll RUIN it!" The point is obvious: There's no such thing as a perfect church. The reason should also be clear: Churches are composed of imperfect people!
What's true of churches is certainly true of small groups. Every group has its weaknesses and drawbacks. Unfortunately, our tendency is to harp on those negatives, forgetting all about the group's strong points, and overlooking another crucial truth: If a group is lacking in some way, perhaps we can do some things individually and corporately to make the group stronger and more effective.
Consider the following seven ways you can make a positive difference in your group:
- Join. You may not even be in a group right now. Perhaps you had a negative experience once (or twice!). A word to the wary: Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater! We've all had unpleasant vacations, but that doesn't deter us. We keep taking trips, knowing that the good times, in the long run, far outweigh any unpleasant memories. That same principle is true in groups.
- Attend. It's hard to contribute, be supportive, or make a difference in absence. Your unique presence is needed if your group is to become what God intends it to be (1 Corinthians 12:12-26).
- Pray. Ask God to give the group's leader(s) wisdom, discernment, and guidance. Ask God to show you what role He wants you to play. Pray for the other members (Colossians 1:9-12). Interceding for each other builds bonds of love and commitment.
- Encourage. Look for positive elements to affirm. If someone does a good job leading singing, tell her. If someone else guides a scintillating discussion, let him know. Any group that is permeated by genuine warmth and acceptance (Hebrews 10:24-25) will be a success, despite its other shortcomings.