I’m going to have some fun with this.
If you’re feeling sensitive, defensive or mildly apprehensive about what might be said about your small group involvement, my advice is to step away from the computer. Look away. What follows isn’t pretty!
It’s the negative version of the more positive one found here!
What follows is five habits that, deliberately or inadvertently employed, will destroy a small group because they undermine the creation of a strong relational dynamic. I’ve been guilty of them all. Less so since I became a Minister.
This is what you need to do if you want to ruin your small group.
1. Don’t pitch up
Just don’t bother going if you don’t fancy it. I’m sure you can justify it if you try. You’ve probably got lots on your plate. You may have six free nights a week after church, but your job is demanding, you’re married and you have children. Or if not, you’re busy and you’re stressed. Everyone wants a piece of you. You need some ‘me’ time. And so you just don’t feel like it. Your hearts not in it. It would be wrong to go if you don’t feel motivated to go. That’s hypocrisy. It’s not good. And so the right thing to do, is in fact, the wrong thing. Yes, that’s right. And so, I just won’t pitch up. They’ll get by without me. They won’t miss me. The last thing they want in the group is a Pharisee who does the right thing without the right motivation. I am in fact doing them a favour by purging the group! I just won’t pitch up.
2. Don’t prepare
Just don’t think about the passage you’re studying at all. Come to it fresh at the study. Don’t bother prayerfully considering the meaning of God’s word beforehand. That would be to quench the Spirit’s illuminative work and prophetic insight, surely? So don’t worry at all about trying to think through the implications of what God’s said. Just wing it and see what comes. Sure this means that we’ll go round and round in circles trying to get things clear in our head but at least we won’t have to bother with any of that painful application stuff. If I do pitch up then I won’t make the mistake of being too zealous and preparing anything.
3. Don’t participate
Just don’t join in. Let someone else, everyone else, in fact anyone else do the talking. It’s not my skill. I’ll let the more extroverted people dominate proceedings. They clearly want to. I don’t. Now’s not the time to teach them to be more considerate of others. So just kill the group dynamic by checking out and not getting involved! It takes effort to be engaged with others. And I’m shattered so I haven’t got the energy for it anyway. I’m a listening sort of a person. Sure, I sometimes daydream but who’ll notice the difference if I never say anything. I’m not really that concerned about how others’ weeks have gone, so why pretend? And I wouldn’t want to give them the impression that I’m all that bothered about how things are going in their Christian life. I’ve got mine to worry about. So I just won’t participate, except on my terms.
4. Don’t pray
Just don’t. When the study has finished just sit there, close your eyes and listen to everyone else. Embrace the silence and let your mind wander. Public praying probably isn’t your thing. You just can’t think on your feet and you’d be concerned that everyone thought you a spiritual lightweight. That wouldn’t be good. It’d be disastrous because you’ve got your reputation to think about. This is a small group in which you need to pretend to be more than you are. You know you’re not fooling anyone. But denial is so much easier than honesty. So I just wouldn’t pray. Don’t even bother at home. But don’t let anyone know that.
5. Don’t pastor
Just come along for your own benefit. Don’t give a second’s thought to anyone else. I wouldn’t worry whether you could be used by God to encourage and support them in their Christian life. Just assume that your issues are more important than theirs. There’s clearly no need to encourage anyone else or support them in their Christian life. They all seem so sorted.
If you want to ruin your home group, put these five principles into practice and watch it crumble around you as others engage in the futile exercise of trying to prop up a decaying edifice!
Or don’t. And build something really rather wonderful.