Your small group can’t be all things to all people, so naturally you will see members come and go. That’s why our groups need to be as well balanced as possible though every group has it’s own unique identity with unique individuals. My groups have always been especially strong at authentic sharing, fellowship and serving but maybe lacked aspects of spiritual discipline at times. From personal experience, I’ve often seen individuals in these types of groups after a period, move on due to one of two reasons: not developing their own daily walk with Christ and unwillingness to deal with conflict.
You can individually outpace your group in terms of spiritual growth. We all grow at different rates and are allotted a measure of faith according to Romans 12. But what happens when you find yourself not growing any longer because you’ve already heard it all and done it all? How do you fight spiritual dryness? You might try another group or church, but then it may happen again. This is where the importance of having a daily spiritual life planted on Jesus Christ and powered by his Holy Spirit really comes into play. We need to be in the Word daily, rather than needing to always be fed by other sources–even pastors. Some might call it “drawing for your own well.” Whatever you call it, a need for developing your own spiritual life is so important to make it through the ebbs and flows of life.
A few months ago a friend and I were having lunch to talk about small group health, and he mentioned mishandling of conflict is one of the major reasons individuals leave a particular small group, ministry or even church. He shared that you can hop from group to group or even church to church every time you’re faced with conflict or disagreement, but unless you commit to being in community with others even through the ugliness, you won’t be healed of some of your brokenness because you may never get deep enough to see your own brokenness. It’s easy to see and even point out what’s wrong with others and even use those things to make us feel better about ourselves. Facing our own brokenness is not so easy.
Because these have to do with individual choices, we can’t expect to keep everyone, but these are issues that every healthy small group will face at some point. So how do we deal with this stuff? What are some ways to teach or model healthy conflict resolution and spiritual discipline in your group? Let me know as I’ll be sharing some of your stories along with my own soon, in a future post.