Years ago, I moved to Dallas to join a tech start-up, shortly after forming a new small group in Southern California. The group was a third-generation branch off of one that had formed only three years prior. These groups resulted from rapid growth within our church community. While I was sad to leave, I knew the group was in good hands. This proved true when I returned to visit a few years later. I found the group, still meeting but with new faces and new leaders. Most exciting was seeing the group led by a member who, when I left, was only a passive participant and not connected through other church activities. He had even been baptized! His example teaches us that small groups can go on and even thrive as group leaders come and go.
Many of us would like to be in our groups forever, but sometimes we are simply like scaffolding for a period to help set up growth for the rest of the body. Still, there are deep, lifelong friendships that we can maintain even if our group dissolves or evolves. Of the four generations of groups I mentioned previously, I still meet regularly with three men who were former leaders of those groups, all now part of different ministries and one is even starting a new church. Our friendships started from those groups almost 15 years ago, and I am confident they will continue for many years to come.