Learn the Secrets of Building Community

Here you will find resources of knowledge to help direct you in the desire for community in your life.  The focus of this blog is to concentrate on practical advice that reveals insights into how human beings were designed to live and function together.  When applied correctly, this information should bring forth a rich and effective experience of community in your life.

How to Keep Conflict From Ruining Your Small Group

The first thing we must address here is, what kind of small group/Christ-centered community are we talking about?  The kind that meet together once a week or two, discuss topics over coffee and snacks, and whose primary function is for its members to get their “spiritual food” for the week?  If this is the kind you hope for, then I’d recommend this first method for keeping conflict from ruining your small group…

Avoid it

If you want this type of small group to survive, make sure the atmosphere and content of your meetings stays in social space.  What does that mean?  Don’t let the small group’s interaction get too personal/intimate.  Keep it very mechanical.  Come prepared with what to talk about and stick to the program.

Avoid Conflict

Talk about your general thoughts about spiritual topics and the surface-y things about your lives.  Don’t interact outside of the meetings.  If relationships start to develop, make sure you set boundaries that won’t let them progress past a certain point.  Keeping your small group and the people in it a compartmentalized part of your life helps here.

Don’t try and make decisions together by consensus.  Assign a person to direct the group and make decisions for it.  If you disagree with their decisions or the group starts getting too personal/intimate, leave as soon as you can and find another group that won’t go there.  You’re looking for something that aligns more with an individualistic mindset, so leave before conflict arises and your departure is messy.  Your presence is just going to ruin what the group is trying to do.

Although you can probably sense a bit of sarcasm in what I’m saying here, it really IS good advice.  For many people, they really don’t desire close-knit Christ-centered community where your purpose and lives become intertwined over time.  They want more of a social club – a place to go to feed the social/spiritual compartment of their lives at regular intervals.  Or they want an emotional club – a place to go while people listen to them unload the emotions they feel.

If this is the case, the best thing we can do together is recognize it and react accordingly.  I would never tell a Christian who was serious about growing in Christ to avoid conflict, keep things at a social level and leave if relationships started growing.  But for some, this is what they want their “Christian life” to be.  If that’s the case, it’s best to just avoid small groups where this isn’t the case.

But, if what you hope for is something that will grow into Christ-centered community, then…

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Small Group Decision-making: The Essential Concept You’ve Probably Never Been Taught

Summary:  Majority-rule isn’t of the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom operates by consensus.  

When you try to operate within a small group setting, you’re at a tremendous disadvantage.  You’re an American.Consensus 1

Now the reason that’s a disadvantage has nothing to do with nationality or politics, but everything to do with culture and mindsets.  When it comes to decision-making, you were trained to think about yourself first and foremost (you gotta do what makes you happy!); and that the majority should rule (whoever gets the most votes wins).

Now you may be thinking that individualism is more the result of sin and not your culture, and you may have a point there.  But there’s no doubt that your culture provides more of an opportunity to be an individualist than most throughout history; and most of us are influenced by that opportunity.

You’ve also grown up in a governing system that operates by majority rule.  The concept is…instead of working to come to one heart and mind on a matter, we’ll just take a vote and whichever perspective more people agree with, we’ll go with that one.  While this method is certainly easier at first, it’s not the case in the long run.

The Kingdom of God is not a democracy

It’s a kingdom.  I mean…it’s in the name!

In a kingdom, the King’s vote is all that matters.  In a righteous kingdom, a righteous King makes decisions based on what’s best for the citizens of the kingdom.  Righteous citizens listen for the decrees of the king and carry out his business in an effort to care for and grow the kingdom; not do what’s best for themselves.  So, the task of the citizens is to listen for the king’s voice on each matter and then carry out his business.

When it comes to organic-kingdom-community small groups, laying hold of the King’s wishes comes about through the decision-making principle of CONSENSUS.

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The Serial Killer of Organic Church & Small Group Meetings Everywhere

Summary:  Monologues have killed organic church meetings everywhere.  Those that like to give them are in every small group.  They are hard to stop because many don’t know they’re killers, don’t know they’re happening, or don’t know how to stop them.  These groups may have a chance to survive if they are eliminated from most of the meetings.

Talk Too Much

Countless Christians join organic churches and small groups in anticipation and excitement for how they’ll impact their experience of the Christian life.  In a culture like ours with such extreme isolation, they offer a refuge for people to have some semblance of Christian community in their lives.  They start attending with hope that their experience might mirror what they’ve heard and read about.  That they can experience the church as a family and not just a club they attend at specific times on specific days.  That Christ can truly be the Head of His Church and not just the subject of conversations and meetings.

But for the most part, the typical small group is short-lived.  Or if it does last past, say 6 months to a year, it lacks depth.  Because we’re bad at them.  Like REALLY BAD.  We don’t really know what we’re doing, and that includes those that are considered leaders.

Here we’re going to cover one such reason.  While it’s not the only killer of organic and small groups, this particular thing is in ALL of them and may be the top reason they die if allowed to be present for a considerable amount of time.

That serial killer is MONOLOGUES.

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22 Synergistic Techniques for Facilitating Successful Small Groups

In the last post, we learned that good facilitators (leaders) love and respect people as they are.  They don’t treat them like things to be fixed.  Because of this, you won’t catch them constantly talking and giving advice.  You’ll catch them asking questions and listening most of the time.

MAD SCIENTISTFacilitating a group is not a mechanical process.  Their aren’t X number of steps that if followed will lead to success.  It’s a craft that takes skill and practice.  You’re working with a living, breathing organism.  Facilitation must therefore follow along the life of the organism and make adjustments and interventions on the fly.

Like a scientist, a facilitator comes prepared with the right techniques that will allow them to guide the process of the creation of the group’s life together.  These techniques are the ingredients that have been known to be fruitful in guiding groups into their purpose.  They’re all designed and encouraged to be at the disposal of the facilitator when appropriate.  Here are some of them…

Tap the energy of the group

A group is its own entity, uniquely distinct from the individuals that make it up.  A good facilitator must be skilled at discerning the difference between individual wants and suggestions and what the group as a whole wants and suggests.  They will help the group find where consensus lies between them.

Follow the resources of the group

A group’s purpose will align with the resources at their disposal.  A good facilitator helps groups see their resources and how they can effectively use them to achieve their purpose.

Don’t show favoritism

Treat everyone as equally valuable and capable group members.  A good facilitator makes sure everyone is committed and involved with the group achieving its purpose.

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A Couple Major Reasons Small Group Leaders Can Be Ineffective

Summary:  Good facilitators (leaders) love and respect people as they are.  They don’t treat them like things to be fixed.  Because of this, you won’t catch them constantly talking and giving advice.  You’ll catch them asking questions and listening most of the time.

In the last post, we learned that in order to help a church start and grow, a church facilitator (leader) needs to be more than gifted.  They need to be “fully developed.”  This doesn’t happen in their 20s.  Almost never in their 30s.  The church may start considering them in their 40s.

Giving too much advice

Too Much AdviceEven if they are fully developed, have you ever noticed how people don’t generally change or grow unless they’re internally motivated to do so?  Sitting and hearing preaching week after week really isn’t all that effective is it?  That’s because people aren’t typically looking for advice or instructions.  They’re looking to be accepted, loved and respected.

That’s not to say people don’t need instruction.  We all do, at the right times and in the right manner.  But for the most part, when people are ready to change or grow, they’ll go looking for answers for what they need to do.

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