One of my last tasks as a pastor at the church in Saint Paul, MN before we moved back to Texas was to write curriculum that we called The Journey Together. As I met with the other pastors who gave input into the project, their comment to me was something like this: "We train the leaders in how good groups work, but the people in the groups need that same information. It's not enough to train the leaders." What an idea. Honestly, I had not given it much attention and as I have looked around, neither have many other church leaders. Then last week, I saw where Alan Danielson wrote a blog post last year on this topic. (Check it out here)
After reading his article, I realized that Alan and I shared a similar discovery from totally different circumstances. I realized that most people in American churches are not being set up to be effective group members. As a result, most of us put all of the pressure upon group leaders and set them up with unrealistic expectations.
One reoccurring experience I've had revolves around the idea of group conflict. Every small group leader book or training manual worth its salt contains information in it about how conflict works and the stages of group life. You know: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, Re-forming. But what about the group members? They are the ones going through the conflict and the time to teach them about it is NOT when emotions are high. It's not like the leader can go to the meeting and say, "Yes I learned about this in my training. What we are going through right now is the conflict stage. Don't worry, we will press through this."
We need creative ways to train groups, not just leaders. We need to equip groups for effective group life. This is the reason I wrote The Journey Together. It's designed to train the group to get started on the right track and figure out how they are going to continue on an effective path together.
To download The Journey Together for FREE, click here. Let me know what you think about it.