One of the most powerful takeaways I came away with was a renewed commitment to the importance of training small group leaders. Yes, adults learn on a need to know basis, and yes, I still believe the best practice is to do TO and FOR your leaders whatever you want them to do TO and FOR their members, but when leaders are well trained they will be better prepared to do something beyond facilitate a good discussion. And they will almost always need to be trained to engage culture.
If you read my post on Community for Everyone from day one of re:group you’ll know that I resonated deeply with the need to offer community to everyone (i.e., far beyond community for the usual suspects). As long as I can remember it has been my hope and ambition to reach deeply into the crowd and community to reach people who are far from God. I suspect that you read my blog because you share in that same hope and ambition.
And that leads me to an aha moment from the Community for Everyone breakout. Here’s the insight:
“The wider the diversity (you hope to include) the better the leader must be.”
Did you catch it? Do you see it? I can’t assume every small group leader has my passion for reaching people who are far from God. I also shouldn’t assume they have my intuition about what to say or how to engage. And as a result, I need to make sure I’m actually equipping small group leaders to engage culture.
Training Leaders to Engage Culture
Here is the introductory paragraph from the session notes of a breakout called Training Leaders to Engage Culture:
“From politics to sexuality there are numerous topics where culture intersects with faith and opinions vary. How we think about these issues is as important as what we think about them. In this breakout, we will take you through how we train volunteers to engage with culture. We’ll explore some root causes of existing cultural tensions and focus on how to walk alongside someone who has a viewpoint different from your own.”
I loved the 5 declaratory statements that were part of the breakout notes:
- We have to decide if we really want to influence the culture we live in. Note: The difference between what churches believe is true and right and what the culture believes is true and right creates a gap. How we teach people to handle the gap influences how we view and treat the people on the other side of the gap.
- Our ability to influence culture is limited by our disgust toward it.
- To overcome disgust, we must intentionally move toward the messes. Great Question: “What is encouraging your leaders to push through their natural instinct to avoid people God is trying to influence?”
- Jesus models how to influence culture. Note: It was right about here that Tim Cooper said, “If what someone is doing keeps you away from ministering to them, you have a higher standard than Jesus.”
- Managing the tension between theology and ministry requires work.
Can you make out the flow of the discussion?
I have to tell you, I’ve thought of little else since I attended this breakout. I am convinced that as the West becomes an increasingly post-Christian culture, it is imperative that we become better at engaging culture.
I found the conclusion of the breakout notes captivating:
“How we educate volunteers to engage with and influence culture is one of the most important things we will do as a church. When our devotion to God is illustrated, demonstrated, and authenticated by our love for others, we make it possible to change our culture…and our world.”
What do you think? Want to argue? Have a question? You can click here to jump into the conversation.
Image by Terry Shuck