I am impulsive. When I get an idea, I do not like to wait to act on it. Over the years, this quality has been mostly positive, but there have been times when it has dug me into a hole from which it was difficult to get out. A couple of years ago, our pastor was deployed to Iraq and an interim pastor took his place. The interim, Ron, had been a part of our congregation for countless years, but I had never been in a position to work with him professionally. As the small group coordinator at our church, I needed to periodically check in with the pastor to share both struggles and dreams for the ministry. At my first meeting with Ron, I excitedly poured out my heart, listing all the things I thought small group ministry could accomplish in the coming year. His response was less than enthusiastic. At least that was how I perceived it. He simply asked me if I had thought through certain issues in relation to my dreams and if I had a plan to fall back on. I must admit I was heartbroken. I had hoped my excitement would ignite his and off we would go in the direction I had dreamed that we would. I sullenly agreed that I had not thought through those issues and promised to look into them. Ron smiled. Although I thought Ron was being a wet blanket, his comments caused me to dig deeper into God's Word, double-check my facts, and determine, without a doubt, the best plan of action. In essence, he was an advocate of assurance.
During the Bible study portion of your small group meeting, purposefully be an advocate of assurance. Boldly ask your group members "what if" questions and challenge pat answers and Christian clichés. Too often, the bulk of conversation in a small group meeting consists of words that are easy to say but difficult to apply to real life. Left unchallenged, these comments can cause some people to leave the meeting feeling incompetent, thinking the others have their lives all together. Questions to ask could include:
- What would that look like in your life?
- How would your life have to change in order for that to happen?
- What if that doesn't work?
- What if it does work?
- Why would you do that?
- What can happen if you don't do that?
- Can you explain what ______ means? (working hard, praying more, etc.)
I sometimes need to be challenged to think past the fun, excitement, and passion of my thoughts and ideas. I need people who are willing to push me to think and hold me accountable to do the hard work. In turn, I need to encourage those in my small group to do the same.