The End in Mind for My Ideal Small Group

cone_slide8Ever spent any time thinking about your ideal small group?  What would it be like?  What kind of people would be part of it?  What would you do together?  What difference would it make in your life to be part of a group like that?

Ever had those thoughts?

I suppose you’ve got good memories of some groups you’ve been part of in the past.  Maybe seasons where the group members just jelled and it was easy to be together.  Maybe other times where it was obvious that the members in your group really received a lot…but you mostly gave and didn’t get a whole lot out of it.

Have memories–good or bad–about groups that you’ve been in?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the kind of group I’d like to have.  Really, the kind of group I think we ought to have in mind for every group member.  And whether you think of it as the end in mind for your ideal small group or the preferred future for your ideal small group…I think there ought to be things that we hope happen for everyone.

Here are a few of the things that I hope happen

Here are a few of the things that I hope happen.  This is the end in mind for my ideal small group:

First, my ideal small group will definitely have a sense of family.  A really healthy family.  We may not always agree, but we’ll always feel like we’re safe, loved no matter what, forgiven when we do dumb things or say dumb things.  Or mean things.  When something good happens for us everyone will celebrate with us.  When something bad or difficult happens, those same people will be the ones crying with us.  My ideal group will make it easy for me to belong.  See also, Do Your Small Groups Cultivate This Powerful Ingredient?

Life-change happens when we’re known.

Second, my ideal group will definitely know that spiritual growth is an expectation.  Changing to become more like Jesus all the time will be more than expected.  It will be anticipated.  And it won’t really be about completing a study guide or workbook.  It will be all about becoming the kind of people who live their lives like Jesus would if He were in our bodies.  My ideal group will make it natural for me to become.  See also, Groups of All Kinds and the Essential Ingredients of Life-Change.

Life-change happens when becoming like Jesus isn’t just something we’re studying.

Third, my ideal group will definitely make having an impact a natural thing.  We’ll hang out and enjoy each other’s company.  We’ll study the Bible together.  But making a difference will also be just part of the normal thing we do.  Whether it’s putting in a little extra to help someone with a need, giving time to help out with the needs of a neighbor, or pitching in to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the community.  My ideal group will make having an impact just part of the normal day-to-day reality.  See also, The Primary Activity of the Early Church and 101 Ways to Reach Your Community.

Life-change happens when we begin to live beyond ourselves.

That’s the end in mind for my ideal small group.  Is my group like that now?  Are our groups that way now?  No…they’re not.  But if we’re serious about arriving at the preferred future, we’ll be intentionally designing in elements and activities that move what we’re doing onto the trajectory that will take us there.  And there’ll be a set of milestones that help us see progress.

Won’t be easy.  Won’t happen without intentionality.  But won’t it be a story to end up in the preferred future?

What do you think?  Have a question?  Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

  • John D.

    Mark,

    I’m very much onboard with all these end goals, or this preferred future. But what steps do we take to get there? I’m struggling with a group that has such potential, but I’m not seeing the results I want. Do you suggest working through a particular curriculum? I am full of big-picture ideas but need help with the paths to get there. How do you intend to proceed in your quest?

    Thanks!
    John

  • markchowell

    Hi John! Sorry I’m so late responding! Was away for a little R&R and no way to get back to you.

    I believe it will be a journey and an uncertain journey for any existing group. Some of what is needed will be found in this post: http://www.markhowelllive.com/skill-training-healthy-groups-integrate-four-components-into-every-gathering/

    Along with that, I’m thinking I might need to develop a resource (or locate one) that will guide groups along the way.

    mark

  • Clifford Pepper

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  • markchowell

    Hi Clifford…check out LifeChurch.TV’s free resources: http://www.markhowelllive.com/take-a-look-at-lifechurch-tvs-free-small-group-resources/