Balancing the Tensions of Small Group Life

Five main small group conflicts and how to go about solving them.

Let's just be honest. When you're trying to make a difference for Christ in other people's lives, there always seems to be a set of tensions pulling on you as you help people grow in a love relationship with the Lord.

In the main sessions of the Southeastern Small Group Conference, keynote speaker Bill Donahue, author of the "Leading Life Changing Small Groups" and co-author of "The Seven Deadly Sins of Small Group Ministry" unpacked five key tensions of small group life. Bill's main session talks and several of the workshops also suggested several pathways for creating a healthy balance in the midst of the tensions of small group life. Here are those five tensions and some strategies for creating healthy balances:

Tension number 1: Life vs. Truth

Balance = Applying Truth to Life

In some cases, we tend to spend nearly all our group time doing Bible study without any sharing of life issues and concerns. In other cases, we spend nearly all our group time discussing life issues without bringing in the truth of Scripture at all. The trouble comes when we dwell at one end of the spectrum or the other for extended periods of time. In the long run, true transformation occurs when the truth about God intersects with the truth about me.

So the question becomes how do we strike a life changing balance between sharing our own life experiences and studying God's Word? How do we help people make the connection between their life stories and God's will?

A powerful way to help people make that intersection is to open your group meeting with a specific life question, rather than having random sharing. This life question is sometimes called the opener or icebreaker question. A true icebreaker is an open-ended question, meaning it does not have ...

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