"But what about the Spirit's leading in the small group," a lady asked me during my lesson on small group agendas in Krosnodar, Russia. By the way she asked the question, I perceived she was questioning the "spirituality" behind following a pre-planned agenda. "After all," she thought, "wouldn't a pre-planed order hinder the Spirit's work?"
This Russian lady sincerely wanted to follow the Spirit, not a man-made plan. And I could fully relate to her concern. I'd rather have a Spirit-led disorderly meeting than an orderly meeting in which the Spirit has no room to work.
An agenda, in fact, is not the main reason for a successful small group. If you're a veteran small group leader, you know that plans and preparation can help—but they are insufficient. Hopefully, you'll agree that Spirit-anointed common sense will hit the home runs. Following rigid, preconceived plans when someone is hurting results in a strike out.
I remember visiting a small group at the Love Alive Church, a famous small group based church in Honduras. I was impressed how the female small group leader skillfully stirred everyone to participate. When I interviewed her after the meeting, she said, "We're instructed by our leadership not to follow the same agenda each week. We're encouraged to intentionally switch things around (worship first one night, worship last another night, etc.) in order to prevent boredom among group members."
My experience that night in Honduras reminded me that there's nothing sacred about an agenda. Agendas are simply road maps to guide us to the destination of transformed lives. An agenda must be critiqued by whether it accomplishes that purpose.
On a number of occasions, I've felt led to throw out my small group agenda. My ...