by Reid Smith
Have you ever been in a high-pressure situation where you needed to know the facts on how to do something…and fast? Imagine a friend needed YOU to jump in and lead their group last minute. What would you need to know? These principles can serve as your quick-start guide:
- Be a people engager – Use the social time with your group to find out how people are really doing and what you can pray for later in the group. If somebody is new, build connections. Also, don’t underestimate the power of “breaking bread together” and how much food helps people take their guard down and build relationships with others.
- Be an Immanuel acknowledger – Open your group in prayer and recognize how our God is Immanuel, “God with us.” Remind them that Jesus is in your midst; where God’s presence is, there is power to transform lives so every group meeting should be life-changing (Mt 18:20). Call out the things you believe God is going to do in people’s lives. Believe for each group member and pray for them by name!
- Be a temperature-setter – Group leaders create environments where the Acts 2:42-47 kind of community can grow. One of the keys to helping a group go deeper in relationships with one another is authenticity. The more real you are, the more vulnerable others will be—so set the pace and be courageous by being completely yourself! This will help people feel more “at home,” open up with others, and participate more in the group.
- Be a Scripture sower – The #1 catalyst for spiritual growth is reading and reflecting on God’s Word. Scripture transforms us from the inside-out because it is God-breathed (2 Tim 3:16-17). So use every opportunity to refer people back to the Bible, pray Scripture aloud, and weave biblical references into your conversations.
- Be Jesus-focused – Use the conversation around your study to point people back to who Jesus is and what He has done. Think of Paul when he said, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). Turning people’s attention to Jesus creates an atmosphere of praise and thanksgiving. Make your group Christ-centered—not curriculum-centered—and invite the Holy Spirit to have His way.
- Be generous in love – To follow Jesus’ example is to love others. Leaders who are rich in love earn the privilege of influencing people spiritually. Take time to learn people’s unique stories, listen to their needs, and pray for their dreams. Generous love does not limit its reach only to those within the group’s circle, but it goes to those who have yet to be transformed by God’s love (Mt 25:40). A group will never grow to its full potential if it does not reach beyond the needs of its own members.
Biblical community will grow when you exercise these principles. Along the way, you’ll experience the thrill of being used by God to inspire real growth in His people and helping those who have yet to know Him find their way home.
Reid Smith has been equipping leaders in churches of all sizes and stages of growth for effective disciple-making since 1996. He lives in Wellington, Florida where he serves as a Groups Pastor at Christ Fellowship. You can find more of his helpful resources at www.reidsmith.org.