Tuesday, June 17, 2008

When is it time to split?

No, not from my husband... but when is a good time for a small group to divide into 2separate groups? This is a dilema as a Small Group Leader that I am facing at this time. I really would appreciate any words of wisdom you gals can give me as how to handle this.

Our group has been meeting for about 5 years now. We have a wonderful rapport, trust and each individual has been growing at his/her pace, but there is definite growth and God is truly glorified. We have developed deep bond with one another and it has truly been amazing. However, the time (I believe) is approaching that the group will need to divide in order to reach new people. I have to admit this is going to be painful, as I truly love each person in our group. We are all so very different, but I cannot begin to tell you much we all have in common as well. And of course the biggest commonality is our love for Jesus Christ and our desire to learn.

The reason I am being led to believe that it's time to divide (that word sounds so negative) is for a few reasons, as this year several things have begun to happen. Allow me to digress a bit. Obviously in the beginning we set up guidelines and expectations such as start time, ending time etc. I believe that a small group is different than a Sunday morning Bible study, larger group Bible study together. A small group is just that - small. Earlier in the year a member of our group invited another couple to our study w/ out first talking about it with the group. In the past if someone wanted to join for a particular study or during a 40 day renewal program it was always discussed w/ the group. (hope I don't sound like I am whining here) One individual who was new was very disruptive, disrespectful etc. We love her in Christ, but I can tell you it tested every ounce of my restraint during the 7 week study she joined us. When we started our next study I was surprised that this couple came back as I was under the understanding they would only be joining us for this one particulare study during our church's yearly 40 Day Renewal Program. If you could have seen my jaw hit the ground you would have laughed at me. It was brought to the attention of the invitee of how disruptive this individual had become to the group. With that said, I can tell you, sadly, that each Wednesday I dread going to study. I facilitate the study and I am struggling with the fact that I am not glorifying God with the feelings of dread I have as I drive to lead the group. I had to miss last week due to a family function and my co-leader phoned me and informed me that the host home has now invited another couple (neighbor's of their's) who are desiring a small group study. Our group at this point has now grown to 14. 10 was comfortable - 14 is getting a bit large and it's difficult to form the bonds, gain the trust and etc.

I truly feel that the time has come that the group split in order to reach more people. I have discussed this with my co-leader and I know she is reluctant because we love our original 10 and had just gotten to the point where every person was comfortable sharing sadness, praises, very personal issues etc. So what is a leader to do? Does it sound selfish (yes girls, tell me if it does) that I want to move on as I am finding it more and more difficult to lead with this individual in the group? (fortunately our summer study has been a 7 week Beth Moore study so the combative individual doesn't have as much time to be so outspoken) I have really prayed on this, and I feel the Lord is leading me to move on... so others can be reached and the groups can grow. Or, maybe I just need to move on... it's been tough. I have found it difficult to lead, when I used to love to lead.

It's intersting - some posts are about sharing our faith with our Siestas. This one is needing prayer and advice from my Siestas!

I am reminded of Hebrews 10:25
~ Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

I need encouragement dear friends. To continue meeting, but how? Pray for me. I need discerment as I contemplate where I need to be and also prayers for discernment as my co-leader will be bringing the issue of separating into 2 small groups up w/ the group tomorrow evening.

Lord in Heaven, my Father God. Only You, by the power of Your Spirit
can provide me with the answsers to my questions, and the strength I need while facing a difficult task and decision. I thank You now for also giving me a group of women, whom I have never met, that will pray for me and give me Godly advice on how to proceed. May whatever the outcome be pleasing to You. Whatever the outcome be Your desire, not my own. In the precious name of Jesus. Amen

PS: I have missed being in blogland as of late. Summer is a busy time for my husband an me from a business perspective as well as our cycling and our leading Bible study. I haven't had the time to post much as well as visit my favorite blogs. I have truly missed each one of you and look forward to an afternoon that I can catch up!
God Bless!


Ang baylis said...

Hi, Kristen!
Yes, we've missed you! Sounds like you have a lot on your mind. First of all, I will pray for you during this time. I remember a time when we were trying to make the same decision. (We did end up in a new group and God Blessed us more than you will know. This new group helped us in our marriage more than any counseling.) By the sounds of it, you've already prayed about this and are pretty sure God said it's time to move on. It's so hard, I know. Especially when there is someone who is EGR (Extra Grace Required) from "The Purpose Driven Life". You said your group was getting a little too big, so it could be a good time to split off and let others take on the leadership role who may never had the courage to get out of the boat!

I will get on my knees for you right now and pray for a clear answer from God. You have such a good heart and I can tell you want to do the right thing.

Keep trusting God and know He wants the best for you even if it means dealing with an awkward situation. Please keep me posted!
Much love,
Angie xoxo

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Well spoken. God will lead your heart. Perhaps he's already spoken in the matter. Tend to that inner prompting; never underestimate the whispers of the Almighty. As long as he's still talking, then we're closer to him then we think.

Thanks for the e-mail. I sent you one back.


Paula (SweetPea) said...

Though I can understand you asking for advice or encouragement of what to do but I believe you have already answered your own question with "I feel the Lord is leading me to move on..." Whether it is for group growth, to reach others, or for your spiritual walk, trust His prompting you.

I can understand about group size. Does your church offer many in home small groups? Though, it has been my experience that it is very difficult to "limit" attendance or have a "closed" door, I can understand how that puts us at a risk of growing too large or having "difficult" people. To me, that is all the more to love them. Obviously, if the disruptions continue and become unrully, the people would need to privately be addressed somehow so as to not inhibit the growth and learning of other members. This may require the advice of your pastor.

I agree that if it appears more and more folks are interested, then it can be beneficial to reduce in half and then actively reach out to new people. The point of small groups is to reach, grow, pray, unit...and the goal would be to get as many people involved. The more involved, the more children of God we have growing in their faith and in return reaching the unsaved.

Go with what God has seemingly already told you. Trust His guidance in showing you HOW to do it.

Kristen Schiffman said...

I have to agree with the ladies above me. It sounds like the Lord has been whispering to your heart it is the time to move on...

Personally, while I think there are some places where dealing with someone who is a bit difficult is healthy for us, I don't think small group should be one of those places.

Small group should be place of trust and positive growth. Not one of division or difficulty. At least, in my opinion, it shouldn't be.

Christ will tell you what to do. I'm praying...

Amy said...

Like all of the comments before me, it sounds like God has already spoken to you about the matter, but that definitely does not make the changing process any easier for you.
I will pray that God comforts your heart and encourages your soul as you take the steps to change the group....

God Bless,