When Extra Grace is Needed

Most small groups have one very needy person; here's some advice on how to handle the situation.

The scene has become familiar: For the fifth week in a row, an interesting study of God's Word ended with your small group huddled around a young man with a mountain of problems. Because your group is filled with caring Christians, they are quick to respond to the needs of this young man and give him their full attention. But you find yourself feeling like your group might be off track.

You wonder about the right way to handle the situation. How can you meet the needs of this young man and still meet the needs of the other group members? How can you help the individual without hurting the group? How can you keep your group on track without being insensitive to immediate needs?

Small group leaders should expect to find at least one very needy person as part of their group. Some have described this person as an "E.G.R." (extra grace required person) or a "V.D.P." (a very draining person). However you see him, it is clear that this individual has some serious needs that go beyond the scope of the other group members. It shouldn't be surprising that a person who is knee-deep in personal problems would seek out a group of committed and caring Christians.

The needy person will sometimes make himself known: the man who asks for the third time in two weeks if anyone could give him a personal loan; the wife who always brings the subject back to her marriage and can't seem to talk without breaking into tears; the student who has suggested more than once that he sees no purpose in living; the young woman who has shown up drunk or stoned; the angry single mother who has left every church and every group she has ever been a part of because every one is a hypocrite and no one knows how to meet her needs.

In cases such as these, it is easy ...

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