As a community group leader, you support and encourage members during seasons of life hallmarked by the need for community, the desire to grow deeper in faith, or the hope to gain long-lasting friendship. However, there are some seasons of life that call for something more—a pastor, specialized ministry, or professional counselor or therapist.
Helping a group member connect with a source of deeper care requires empathy, understanding, and patience.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. When a group member shares something difficult they’re experiencing, your response is crucial. If you can respond empathetically, it shows that you care and are doing your best to understand their experience, even if you can’t fully relate. Empathy builds trust, which makes it easier to refer a group member to an outside source of support. One way to respond with empathy is to say something like, “I understand this situation hurts. I want to support you in the best way possible. Would you be interested in talking to someone at the church that might be able to help? I can help you figure out how to make that happen.”
Expressing your understanding to a group member builds trust. Simply saying, “I understand,” lays a foundation of safety and acceptance by assuring the group member that he or she isn’t alone. One way to show you understand is to neutralize the situation by saying, “You’re not alone in this” or “Your emotions make sense. I know someone who can speak into your situation”.
James 1:19 tells us to be quick to listen, and slow to speak. This is important to practice when a group member discloses something upsetting or alarming. You may hear something that is overwhelming or difficult. Try to remain calm on the outside, even if you're freaking out on the inside. If you stay calm, the group member will feel accepted and be more receptive to the outside resources that you offer. Some ways to practice patience and active listening are to say, “Tell me more,” or stay in tune by keeping good eye contact and minimizing outside distractions.
If you attend one of our Atlanta area churches, you can point group members who need help to our Care network:
Oasis is a small group ministry that would be beneficial if a group member discloses that their marriage is crumbling, and separation or divorce is a real possibility. Individuals are joined together with others who are currently separated or divorced where encouragement, learning, and sharing is offered within a safe context.
All marriages can benefit from the Thrive ministry. During the 8 week small group journey, topics such as communication, conflict, and forgiveness are covered. This is a great opportunity for couples to intentionally focus on their marriage and spend time growing closer to each other and to God.
The MoneyWise ministry connects an individual experiencing financial hardship with a trained volunteer mentor. This mentor will help him understand God’s principles of money management, transform the way he uses money, and help him move past challenging financial situations. In addition to 1-1 mentoring, there are MoneyWise Groups. These are 9 week small group settings based on the Financial Peace University curriculum by Dave Ramsey.
Two to One
Two to One is our premarital ministry that focuses on preparing an engaged couple to have a great marriage. An engaged couple is paired with a trained volunteer couple for 8 mentoring sessions. This journey of marriage preparation is designed to help couples have strong, lasting marriages based on biblical principles.
Restore is a 1-1 mentoring ministry focused specifically on grief and loss. This ministry matches a group member with a trained volunteer mentor who has also experienced loss to offer guidance, support and encouragement through their grief journey.
Re:new is a great ministry if a group member is feeling stuck, unsure of God’s plan for her life, or unsure of herself. The group member will be paired with a trained volunteer mentor will help her develop an understanding of who she is in Christ and the freedom that comes from living in her true identity.
Instead of having counselors at the church, we partner with counselors in the area who are vetting and trusted by North Point Ministries. The care team makes it easy to take the first step towards connecting with a counselor by offering a personalized list of counselors who specialize in your area of need.