Why can't this group stay on track! We've ended up on a rabbit trail for the past three weeks, wandering down the lane of Jack's pet peeves. It's so boring!"
"Sorry, I just don't have the time to bring refreshments, what with work and the kids and all … You understand.
"I sure don't understand why we always have to bring new people into this group. It seems to me it would be a lot better if they just started new groups and left us alone."
"Why don't we ever have a service project like the Allison group? They're about the same size as us. What do they have that we don't? Must be a better leader. Too bad."
"I don't know why we always meet at the Jordon's! Their place is so small. Why can't we go to the Nelson's? They have the biggest house.
Have you ever heard words like these in your small group? I have. In fact, I must confess that at times I've been guilty of saying some of them myself. In this day when we're all so terribly busy with the stuff of this world, it's easy to think that our small group should function on automatic pilot or that our leaders can do it all. But they can't. And what's more, it was never meant to be that way.
When Paul was traveling through the Middle East planting the first century churches, some of which started as small groups, he had a great deal to say about how they should function. He appointed and trained elders. He gave pastoral instructions to Timothy, Titus, and others who filled that role. He wrote letters of encouragement and letters of correction. Some of his most enlightening words on how the church, and by extension small groups of the church, should function are found in Ephesians 4:11-16.
According to Paul, "It was he (Jesus) who gave some to be (or gifted some to be) prophets, ...