It’s easy to get swept up in the moment. Maybe you said yes to leadership after your pastor shared a compelling vision for small groups. Maybe you just finished a book about small groups, and you were eager to jump in. Maybe you’ve loved your experiences in past small groups, and you jumped at the chance to provide that for others. Whatever it was that pushed you over the edge into leadership, it’s perfectly normal to wonder why you ever took that step over the edge. What in the world did I get myself into?
There are a number of reasons new leaders feel anxious. Some begin to doubt their abilities. Some wonder about the time commitment. Others have their first meeting and realize their group members aren’t the kind of people they were expecting. Regardless of why you’re getting a little nervous, there are five things you can do to find that initial excitement again.
1. Get clear on the mission of your small group.
Any church small-group ministry has an idea of what they hope small groups will accomplish. Some churches want group members to form new relationships. Others want them to serve together. Still others focus on gaining Bible knowledge. Most want some combination of these three. It’s easy to feel anxious, though, if you aren’t sure which of these are most important to your church. Get crystal clear on the mission of your church’s small groups. This will ensure you’ll know what to focus on and how to gauge whether your group is successful.
If you’re leading a group that’s not connected to a church or ministry, you’ll have to figure out the mission of your group for yourself. Think: In six months, how would I know that we’ve been successful? Answering this question will help you focus on the most important thing for your group. Bottom line: if you’re accomplishing that mission, you’re successful. There are lots of other great benefits of small groups, but it’s important to focus on the number one goal.
2. Focus on one thing at a time.
As you think about your mission, however, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. After all, we often have lofty goals for our groups. Even a simple goal of forming new relationships doesn’t happen overnight. So instead of focusing on the completion of your long-term mission, focus on one thing at a time that will move you in the right direction. So if your goal is to form new relationships, focus on one thing that you can do at the next meeting to move toward that goal. At the first meeting, that might simply be introducing everyone to each other. At future meetings, it may mean seeing people stay after group for social time or planning an outing to the local ice cream shop. Pick your next step and focus only on that one thing.
Focusing on one thing also means being present with whatever you’re doing at the moment. So many small-group leaders make the mistake of rushing to the next thing. For instance, rather than listen to group members’ responses to a question, many leaders start to think about which question to ask next. One of the best things you can do for your group is to be present in the moment—whatever that moment entails. If that’s engaging in small talk before the meeting, be fully present with the people you’re talking to rather than thinking about how you’re going to start the discussion time. If someone is sharing a deeply personal story, listen well and ask follow-up questions. Stop worrying about the next thing long enough to soak up the current moment.