Small groups are great! They’re a place where we can connect with others, share, pray, grow, talk, study, explore, and go deeper in our faith. Except sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes, for various reasons, they can be places where people aren’t great at sharing, talking, praying, and encouraging one another. So I want to offer three simple ways you can get the most out of your small group, and you can be a great encourager to others.
- Be there! I know its tempting sometimes to skip small group. We may be tired and busy with a million other things to do. We may just want to crash out on the sofa in front of Netflix. But one of the best ways we can encourage others is simply with our presence. I’ve been the leader in groups where two people have turned out – it doesn’t feel great. And I’ve also been at those meetings where everyone has turned out, and we’ve had an amazing time. So if you want to get the most out of your small group, and you want to encourage others, commit to being there whenever you’re able. You may not realise it, but you will be a huge encouragement to others, especially the leader.
- Talk! There’s nothing more awkward than prolonged silence in response to a question. As a leader or group member its painful to be in that moment where a question has been asked and everyone simply looks at the floor, or their Bibles. I know some of us are more reserved than others, but turn up to small group planning to speak and contribute. Perhaps you could think ahead, maybe as you walk or drive to your group, what will you be talking about, and what might you have to share. Try being the first person to answer, at least once each week. It doesn’t matter if you don’t say the most profound thing, or it doesn’t come out quite right. Nobody minds. As with your presence, your participation will encourage everyone in the room, and the leader will love you for it.
- Pray! As with #2, how often has the leader initiated a time of prayer only to be met with a deafening silence. Again, I know for some of us praying in public is scary. We’re afraid of saying the wrong thing, or not getting the words out. But, as with #2, nobody minds. Even more importantly God doesn’t mind. He delights to hear us talk to him as children to a father, and in fact Jesus commands us not to babble on like pagans (Matt 6:7). So when you come to your group plan and be prepared to share and pray. Don’t worry about how long or fancy your prayers are – just pray, something short, something simple, maybe just a sentence. You wouldn’t believe how much that would encourage others in your small group. It’s also a good way of helping others begin to learn to pray in a small group setting.
So there it is. It’s not rocket science. If you want to get the most out of your small group, and if you want to encourage others in your group, and if you want to support the leader then work at these three simple things: Be there, talk, pray.